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Into the Woods

I have never had a blog before. So, please forgive me if it takes awhile for me to get it right. I have read that the first thing someone should do is to tell their audience a little about themselves. I’m not good at talking about myself, but I’ll give it a go.


I am originally from Mobile, Alabama. Mobile is a coastal city and the second largest in the state (Birmingham being the largest). Neither my mother or father hunted, trapped, hiked, or generally cared anything about wildlife and nature. I grew up thinking that I must have been adopted, but my face would not let me deny my heritage. I see both of my parents in it.

We lived in the suburbs, but a wooded area with a creek ran behind our house – it was my salvation. I asked for mammal and bird field guides for my birthdays, along with any other books about wild animals or nature. They gave them to me, yet I overheard my parents telling my grandparents that it was certainly a phase and I would grow out of it. I didn’t.


My initial wildlife education consisted of climbing over the back fence and spending hours in the woods identifying birds and mammals. I used my bird field guide until the pages fell out. I lamented all of the beautiful creatures in those field guides that I thought I would never see, because at that age, I thought I would never leave Mobile. But I did leave, and I never looked back.

As far as my formal education, I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Biology from the University of South Alabama. My Master’s thesis was on the nesting ecology of southern flying squirrels. They are such wondrous creatures, and few people even know they are out there. Then, I went to the University of Missouri and did my PhD research on urban raccoons in the Chicago area. More than once, I wondered how my desire to be a wildlife biologist and live somewhere remote had landed me in a place that was home to over 8 million people. But I adapted, as had the raccoons. At the end I had captured over 1,000 individual raccoons over 2,000 times.


After I graduated, I worked for one year for the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Phoenix, Arizona. The desert is a beautiful place to visit, but I couldn’t live there. I missed trees more than I can say. Next, I taught for a year at Colorado State University. A wonderful town and a beautiful place. I could see the Rockies out my office window. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the trails. But, it was only a one-year appointment and I had to move on. I went full circle back to Chicago to do a post-doc research project through Ohio State University on special radiocollars. We used raccoons as a test subject, but I also managed projects on skunks and coyotes.


Finally, I landed in Athens, where I worked for the ODNR for over 10 years. However, my dream was to have my own research institute and to do the research that I felt was important and needed to be done. So, here I am with AWRI and I couldn’t be happier.


I have always known what I was. Even as a little girl climbing over a fence to get into the woods. And I feel blessed for it. After all these years as a professional wildlife biologist, I have seen so many things, had so many adventures, and despite my many years of graduate training and research, wildlife and nature still surprise me.


This is the one and only time I will talk about myself. I want this blog to educate and inform. So, let me know what you want to know about. Let me know your questions about wildlife or the environment. I’ll do what I can to answer them.


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P.O. Box 396 Athens, Ohio  45701