Though I work primarily with applicators now, I spent most of my younger career working at zoos and state parks doing conservation work and education. A lot of my work focused on natural resource management, but I was also the lead on a conservation project where my team and I bred a critically endangered species of toad and released the tadpoles to the wild. I am proud to say that the people I used to work with are still making great strides and were able to successfully release thousands of tadpoles again this year. I also spent much of my time caring for the animals at the zoo.
A part of my time was dedicated to helping communities understand the big picture of our natural resources. It was actually during my teaching a group of adults about the importance of scavengers like vultures that I realized that the best thing I could do was pursue a life in education. A few months later I contacted a professor at the University of Nebraska to see if she had any openings for a graduate student. One of my great interests is = insects and I have a soft spot for pollinators, especially bees. Dr. Judy Wu-Smart took me in as a graduate student and I was able to research the impacts of pesticide residues on honeybees. It was an incredible whirlwind of experiences and I learned so much that it still amazes me!
I am also lucky to have an incredible husband who supported me through graduate school and still goes out of his way to support my aspirations in my new career. I know that as I learn my role at the University of Nebraska I will always have him as my emotional support human to help me get through it all!
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I am the pesticide safety education program coordinator. The program goal is to reduce the toxicity and use of pesticides and promote safer applications to: protect human health, protect the environment, and reduce costs for communities, farms, ranches and businesses. A hope of mine is to incorporate what I learned in graduate school in the trainings I help create.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I just finished my graduate program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I found that I really love the community. My favorite thing about Nebraska is how proud the people are to be a part of Nebraska. My research also focused on pollinators and pesticides so it felt like a good transition into a role where I could protect our communities as much as pollinators through education.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I love the moment that someone takes what I have taught them and starts making connections past what I said.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement in life was going to graduate school. My parents never went to college, so I am proud to not only be a first-generation college student, but also to be first gen with a graduate degree.
What is something that most people don't know about you?
I used to do wildlife rehabilitation at a nature center in Kansas and I got to work with birds of prey to rehabilitate them. My favorites to work with were the bald eagles and the one time we got a snowy owl was incredible as well.
What is your life like outside of work?
I spend a lot of my time at home with my husband Matt and my pets. We enjoy activities like hiking, fishing, gardening and games. We also really love trying unique restaurants. One of our big hobbies is beekeeping and we hope to someday have more land to grow our hobby!