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Chair: Emily Williams, AWB®, Alaska
Emily received her Bachelor degrees in English and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida, and her masters degree from Kansas State University. Currently, Emily works as an Avian Ecologist for the National Park Service at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. She works with a team of ecologists that seek to understand the migratory ecology, behavior, and annual cycles of birds that call the park their home. Emily has thoroughly enjoyed being a Florida transplant in the Great White North and is continuing to learn how to effectively pass as a Floridian-turned Alaskan, one rookie mistake at a time.
She has been actively involved with the Early Career Professionals Working Group since 2013 and was Secretary from 2016-2018. She also is a board member for the Ethnic Gender Diversity Working Group, and serves on the Conservation Education Award Committee. Emily’s service to TWS extends beyond committees and working groups, with efforts in several diversity initiatives, planning of workshops, symposia, and plenary sessions for annual conferences, and the Leadership Institute professional development program.
Emily originally became involved with The Wildlife Society with her student chapter in college in the hopes of making friends with people of common interests that liked to be outside and play with bugs just like she did as a kid. In the 10 years of her society involvement, that initial interest has evolved to not only continue to make friends and network with professionals – but to work towards a common goal of serving and protecting our wild lands and the plants and animals that depend upon them.
Co-Chair: Kristi Confortin, AWB®, North Carolina
Hello everyone, I’m Kristi Confortin. For you guys to better understand who I am and where I came from here is a brief snap shot of my background. I received my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management from SUNY Cobleskill in New York and a master’s degree from Ball State University in Indiana, researching the roosting ecology of the Eastern small-footed bat. I am currently a Wildlife Diversity Technician for North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, preliminary focusing on bats.
Through my education I was introduced to The Wildlife Society where I started my involvement in my Student Chapter. I held numerous officer positions and was the coordinator of our annual Fish and Wildlife Festival. After my Student Chapter, I was elected as the Chair of the Student Development Working Group where I served a three-year term. As Chair, I sat on TWS Council and learned how The Wildlife Society operates. I also serve on the Women of Wildlife Steering Committee and take a part in TWS Diversity Initiative. I am currently going through the Leadership Institute which will give me additional courage to understand the responsibility of preparing myself and other wildlife professionals for our future. Over the last 8 years of being a member of The Wildlife Society, it has provided me wonderful opportunities for me stay focused on my career path.
Being a part of the Early Career Professional Working Group will allow me to be involved with early career professionals with similar passions. As Co-Chair of this working group it would be my goal to bridge the gap for early career professionals by improving communication on how the society operates. I hope to encourage early career professionals to get more involved with their State Chapters and/or Sections. I am a highly enthusiastic and motivated individual with a passion for inspiring others and for conservation. I look forward to serving on the Early Career Professional Working Group board!
Past-Chair: Krysten Zummo-Strong, AWB®, Wisconsin
Krysten received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cobleskill and her master’s degree from New Mexico State University, where she studied the effects of climate and habitat on scaled quail populations in south-central New Mexico. Her research focused on how climate variables, such as timing and amount of rainfall, and habitat structure influenced the survival and reproduction of scaled quail.
She has been active with TWS since 2009 and has served in leadership roles within the New Mexico and Colorado state chapters, the Central Mountains and Plains Section, the Student Development Working Group (including serving as Student Liaison to Council), and the Early Career Professional Working Group. She has also been active in organizing multiple aspects of the annual TWS conference, including student presentation judging, training, symposia/workshops, and the organization of the 2019 concurrent sessions.
Professionally, Krysten has worked across the United States from New York to California, Missouri to Oregon and New Mexico, and Colorado to Wisconsin. She is a bird nerd through and through and has spent her early career focused on effective habitat management, whether it be forested, desert, or prairie. After time spent with local, state, and federal agencies, and academia, she has landed in the world of NPO/NGO’s working with local landowners to create and protect habitat. She recently began work with a Wisconsin land trust, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, and spends her time exploring the Driftless Area of Wisconsin working with landowners to protect the area’s unique landscapes in perpetuity.
Secretary: Jonathan Trudeau, Michigan
Jonathan is Ph.D. student at Michigan State University (MSU) where he is studying the effects of landscape characteristics on white-tailed deer movements and how deer behavior may impact the spread of chronic wasting disease in south-central Michigan. Jonathan grew up in New England hunting, fishing, and hiking with his family. His passion for the outdoors was the driving force behind his decision to pursue a career in wildlife. Prior to his current position at MSU, Jonathan worked for an array of organizations including state, federal, and private entities. Most notable, Jonathan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service Refugee system where he was a bio-technician collecting information on mesopredators, loons, bats, and amphibians at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. After being in the workforce for a few years, Jonathan went back to school and received his Masters of Science degree from Ball State University, which is where he was first exposed to The Wildlife Society (TWS).
While at Ball State, and now at MSU, Jonathan enjoys organizing and taking part in outreach programs with the local community. Jonathan regularly talks to local stakeholder groups about his research and about urban wildlife in general. As the secretary for the ECPWG, Jonathan brings his experience working with undergraduates to better position themselves for positions after graduate and plans to apply this knowledge to help other young professionals in the wildlife field. Jonathan’s goal as secretary is to ensure that the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of all early professionals are heard by TWS and to convey any wisdom he may have to other young professionals seeking advice.
Treasurer: Sarah Clark, Georgia
Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Clark and I am the Treasurer of the ECPWG. I am 24 years old and I graduated from Ball State University in Indiana with a degree in Biology, concentrating in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. I was a member of the Ball State chapter of The Wildlife Society for three years and president for my final year. Contributing as a member of TWS during my undergraduate years completely shaped my early career development, providing me with new passions and expanding my knowledge in ways that classes could not.
As a young adult still trying to find my place in the field of biology, being a member of this group and TWS is important to me. Thus far, in an attempt to find my way through my passions, I have worked in a variety of wildlife biology field research positions, spent considerable time in environmental education, and explored an amateur interest in paleobiology. I have enjoyed being a member of ECPWG and am excited to continue to be more involved in a group whose purpose is to help others in a position similar to mine.
I am currently living in Georgia and am working at a nature center as a part of the education staff. In my free time I really enjoy reading, hiking, and learning more about rocks and fossils. I am also in the process of applying to graduate school at the University of Georgia, with the hopes of being able to pursue a master’s degree in wildlife ecology.
Communications Coordinator: Yasmine Hentati, Maryland
Yasmine is currently a wildlife technician on the Cook County Urban Coyote Project based in Chicago, IL. Prior to that, she spent almost two years working with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the University of Maryland on the Areawide Tick Control Project in Howard County, MD. During her time at the USDA, Yasmine had the privilege of having several influential mentors who opened many doors for her, and was introduced to the MD/DE TWS chapter where she was able to make more connections. As communications coordinator, Yasmine hopes to help early career members of TWS to take advantage of resources and networking opportunities offered to them by the ECPWG and other factions of TWS, and help build a strong community for wildlife professionals who are entering the work force.
At-Large Board Member: John Vanek, AWB®, Illinois
I am a wildlife biologist broadly interested in non-game conservation and management, with a strong interest and background in herpetology. I earned my BS in Wildlife Science at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where I was president of our student chapter of TWS and captain of our quiz bowl team (Go Stumpies!). For my MS at Hofstra University, I studied the spatial ecology and biogeography of eastern hog-nosed snakes, and for my PhD at Northern Illinois University I’m studying the ecology and conservation of urban wildlife.
During, after, and between my undergrad and masters, I’ve been fortunate to have worked for the USFWS, USDA, the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, consulting firms, various universities (Purdue, Florida State, Southern Illinois), and a municipal conservation department. I’ve worked with both game and non-game species, as well as in the control of nuisance species. I also spent two years as an environmental educator.
I feel that it is critically important that applied ecologists communicate (effectively!) with the public, and so I do my best to make interactions with the public positive, educational, and fun. In addition, I maintain Facebook pages for the Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and the Student Development Working Group, and co-maintain the Facebook Snake Identification Group (which has over 100,000 members): www.SnakeIdentification.org.
At-Large Board Member: Julia Nawrocki, AWB®, Nebraska
In the spring of 2017, I completed my master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and started working in my current position at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Here in Nebraska, I assist the waterfowl, furbearer, and upland game program managers with tasks ranging from capturing and collaring trumpeter swans to banding doves to working with nuisance wildlife trappers. Prior to living in the Midwest, I worked in many regions of the country with a variety of species ranging from fishers to endangered bats. I even had the privilege of working on a semester project in Costa Rica during my undergrad and to spend a month learning about wildlife management in South Africa. I have worked for state agencies, private consulting firms, the federal government, and in academia, which gives me great perspective to see things from different viewpoints.
I have been involved with The Wildlife Society since I was an undergraduate student at Ball State University. I was an active member and served as the president of the student chapter for the 2011/2012 academic year. As a graduate student, I continued to be involved at the University of Illinois. I served as Vice President of the student chapter in 2014/2015, Graduate Student Representative in 2015/2016, and was a member of the planning committee for the Illinois state chapter meeting in 2015. Now that I am no longer a student, I wish to maintain involvement with TWS by becoming more active in the national chapter!
In my free time, I enjoy upland hunting, cooking and training dogs (I have three!)
At-Large Board Member: Rob Lewis, AWB®, Kentucky
Rob Lewis is a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and is certified as an Associate Wildlife Biologist ®. In this position, he works with private landowners to develop wildlife habitat in a heavily timbered area of the state through the Southeastern Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative. He received his Masters of Natural Resources from Utah State University in 2017 and his Bachelors of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Murray State University in 2015. At Utah State, he researched deer-coyote interactions on a Naval Air Station and common raven management for the benefit of greater sage-grouse. At Murray State he researched lead toxicology in eastern gray squirrels as well as wildlife damage management at general aviation airports.
He has worked as a Wildlife Specialist with USDA APHIS Wildlife Services working to reduce the risk of bird-aircraft strikes and as a contracted Natural Resources Technician for the Department of the Navy conducting avian surveys. He served as the two-time Secretary of the Student Development Working Group and is currently the Student Board Member of the Wildlife Damage Management Working Group and a member of the Student-Professional Development Committee of the Kentucky Chapter of TWS.
At-Large Board Member: Jason Matthews, AWB®, North Dakota
Jason Matthews is a Wildlife Inspector for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at the Pembina Port of Entry in North Dakota. He has worked for FWS for over three years: first as a Pathways Intern at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in western Kentucky, then transitioning into his current role with the Office of Law Enforcement. In his current position, he works to monitor wildlife trade in international markets and curtail illegal wildlife trafficking. His introduction to TWS came when he began his undergraduate experience at Murray State University (MSU) in 2013. As a student, he conducted research into wildlife damage management and was an involved member of the Wildlife Damage Management Working Group. Jason has been a member of all levels of TWS, serving as president of the MSU student chapter and a student representative to the Kentucky chapter of TWS. Looking to continue his experience serving members of TWS, Jason hopes to support new professionals as they seek to gain knowledge and skills to advance their careers. As an At-Large Board Member, Jason would be a resource to new professionals hoping to attain a federal position or work in conservation law enforcement.
At-Large Board Member: Paul Di Salvo, AWB®, Washington D.C.
Paul has served as a Board Member At-Large for the ECPWG for the since 2016. During his tenure on the board, he has promoted several mentorship initiatives within TWS, including getting TWS Council to approved adding mentorship categories to the CWB renewal and Professional Development Certificate applications. Paul is the Founding Chair of the Mentorship for Life Subcommittee of Council, which was established by the TWS President and Council in September 2018. This group will establish the framework for a formal mentorship program within TWS and represent ECP and all TWS members in addressing their mentorship and professional development needs. He hopes to continue these efforts with a second term on the ECPWG Board. Paul currently works as a Wildlife Biologist for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs. He is a TWS Leadership Institute Class of 2018 alumnus and a certified Associate Wildlife Biologist ®.
At-Large Board Member: Anna Butler, AWB®, New York
Anna Butler received her BS in Wildlife Science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). She is currently working as a Wildlife Technician for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) while pursuing her MFA online from Chatham University in nonfiction Creative Writing, where she plans to focus her thesis on stories from the young wildlife profession. She has been a member of The Wildlife Society since 2012, and has been certified as an Associate Wildlife Biologist. In 2013 she received the NRA’s Women’s Wildlife Management/Conservation Scholarship.
Over the past several years Anna has worked for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, HawkWatch International, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Oregon’s SOLVE, Bedford Audubon Society, and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies with butterflies, raptors, ground squirrels, wetlands, and ticks, to name a few. She currently helps the NYS DEC with a hunting co-op, furbearer surveys, and land management. Anna hopes to bring her organizational, research, writing, and wildlife skills to the Early Career Professional Working Group as an At-Large Board Member.
At-Large Board Member: Ben Olsen, AWB®, Wisconsin
I became interested in wildlife as a kid exploring the family farm. That interest grew into a passion to spend my life working as a wildlife professional. Once I graduated High School, I immediately began seeking a Bachelor of Science in wildlife conservation and management at Missouri Western State University (MWSU). Within the first couple weeks of undergrad, I was exposed to everything the MWSU Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society was doing to prepare students for careers in wildlife management. I immediately became an active member assisting with habitat workdays, biological surveys, public outreach events and various workshops. As an active member, I was elected president of the student chapter for two consecutive terms from 2012-2014. Through these experiences, I was able to work several internships before graduation from MWSU in May of 2014. After graduation, I was hired by Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge as a Biological Science Technician to lead the YCC Crew and assist refuge staff with various projects. In January 2015, I began attending graduate school at Texas A&M University-Kingsville with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. As a graduate student, I completed a thesis focusing on the influence of extreme summer temperatures on Northern bobwhite habitat selection. I completed my thesis and graduated with a master’s degree in Range and Wildlife Management in December 2017. Currently I work for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
I thoroughly enjoy being a part of The Wildlife Society. I have held several various positions on committees and working group boards as a student, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue that work as part of the Early Career Professionals Working Group.