CFAES Give Today

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Alumni Career Spotlight: Garrett Caudill

Garrett Caudill
Natural Resource Management '22
Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist II, Pheasants Forever

Garrett pictured alongside deer exclosureAs an undergraduate student, Garrett studied Natural Resource Management and   completed his degree in SENR in 2022. He completed two internships with OSU Mansfield as a Maple Research Assistant and an Ecolab Intern. He also held an internship with ODNR Division of Forestry. Currently, he serves as a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist II (FBB) with Pheasants Forever. 


A Glance at Garrett’s Current Work

I am a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist (FBB) II for Pheasants Forever (PF). I received this position immediately after graduation in May of 2022. Currently, I work out of Oak Harbor, Ohio. My counties that I cover are Lucas East, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Wood.

Days as an FBB for Pheasants Forever vary greatly in terms of what I am doing for work. For the most part, an FBB is “in charge” of overseeing the technical side of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)/Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) contracts. Pheasants Forever has an agreement with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them provide technical expertise to private landowners. I am tasked with performing the site visits on CRP/CREP contracts. This will include field assessments during the conception of the contract, halfway through the contract, and at the end. These field assessments are used to help inform landowners on how they can construct, manage, and maintain wetland and grassland habitat. This is an oversimplified look into what the PF FBB team does. Our team spends many hours creating maps and plans for CRP/CREP and also the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Education and outreach is also a huge part of our position. This comes in the forms of workshops and webinars, or even just our day-to-day conversations with landowners about various wildlife and wildlife habitat topics.

The most rewarding part of my job is conversing with private landowners that truly care about being stewards of their land. I especially enjoy when landowners have specific wildlife goals in mind that they want to accomplish. It is my job to help them foster the required habitat for the wildlife that they want on their landscape.Garrett pictured with a turkey


Professional Development

What were you involved in during college?

I was not involved with much when I was enrolled. I kept to myself more than what I probably should have and steered away from involving myself in a whole lot. I also worked a good portion of my tenure at OSU and that took up a lot of my time. Looking back, I wish I would have stepped out of my comfort zone and taken on more involvement.

I had three internships while I was in school. I worked as a Maple Research Assistant for Dr. Gabe Karns at OSU Mansfield. Another intern and I spent time monitoring and collecting the sugar content of sugar, red, and red x silver maple crosses. This research would be used to help producers understand more about their sugarbush. This internship took place from Autumn 2020 into Spring 2021. OSU classes had all been held online at this time and many students, myself included, returned home. My home was a short drive away from the OSU Mansfield campus. Between the quick drive to work and online classes, it was easy to maintain a work/school balance.

Immediately following this internship, I held another position with Dr. Karns at OSU Mansfield as an Ecolab intern. This internship ran from Spring 2021 into Fall 2021. I can attribute a lot to this internship. It was my favorite “job” I’ve had to this day. It gave me a ton of experience that looked great on a resume and taught me more than what a classroom could have. I was able to do various jobs under this position. This included herpetological surveys of salamanders/frogs and snakes. We performed right-of-way vegetation and pollinator surveys (which is a great portion of what I do for work currently). We performed deer browse monitoring and deer density surveys on the campus, monitored trees for Beech Bark Disease, and reported data collected from my previous maple internship. In between all these projects, we removed invasive vegetation, helped the Woodland Stewards program with education and outreach, built brush piles, and cut grapevines. This position was packed full of jobs and tasks that I could use on my resume when I graduated. I owe a lot to Dr. Karns for trusting me to work for him with these two positions. I would not have gotten a job in the conservation field upon graduation without the internships above. I still remain in contact with Dr. Karns and Kathy Smith (OSU Extension) to this day and am glad to call them mentors and friends of mine. As a student heading towards the workforce, mentors are very important to have.

My last internship was with ODNR at the Division of Forestry. I hired on with some other students to paint boundary lines at Shawnee State Forest. We worked in the spring semester of 2022. Beyond the painting, we got some opportunities in the office. Most of it was spent organizing the office spaces; however, we were able to help transfer collected data for the Division as well. This position was mainly a weekend-only job, but some of us did work various weekday afternoons as well. The Division was great at allowing us to focus on school first and work whenever we were able to fit it in.


What advice would you give to someone who is still in college and hoping to do what you do?

If someone wanted to have the position that I have currently, I would tell them that they would obviously need a science-based degree. I think Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Forestry, Fisheries, & Wildlife (FFW) are probably the best. I imagine anything with SENR would make you extremely competitive. I’m pretty sure we even have someone on our team currently that has a plain biology degree. Relevant experience, how you interview, and who you know probably matters more than what your degree is in.

Relevant work experience (internships) and professional references are paramount. That will set some candidates aside from the others. It will also give you a leg to stand on in interviews. When interviewing for positions, it is nice to have experiences that you can reference when speaking. It makes you seem credible to the interviewer.

Lastly, I believe work ethic trumps all. Whether you would like to work for Pheasants Forever, ODNR, or whoever, they want someone with a high work ethic. This can be demonstrated by your grades you had in college. It can be demonstrated by the internships you’ve held. Honestly, it can be demonstrated by jobs you’ve held while attending school that don’t have to do with your major. For example, let’s say you haven’t had an internship opportunity yet, you don’t get the best grades, but you attend all your classes and pour concrete on the weekends to help pay for rent/school/groceries/whatever, then you clearly have a desirable work ethic that companies want. You work while attending school. That’s tough. Demonstrating high work ethic is useful and reliable to companies/agencies/organizations.


What experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?

The internships that I had in school and the relationships that I built while working them were integral to my professional development and being able to get a job after graduation.


What was a challenge you faced in your professional development and how did you overcome it?

I bounced around a lot during undergrad. I started at Bowling Green, transferred to OSU Mansfield with the intent of going to main campus, and eventually ended up at main. If I was to give a rough estimate, I probably held 5-6, maybe even seven majors at various times. Again, most of them were science-based, but it was still stressful trying to determine what I liked and didn’t like: I started in Marine Biology, spent time undecided, went Zoology (didn’t like it at the time), did a semester in Moving-Image Production because I thought I wanted to film wildlife documentaries, switched to Environmental Science (got weeded out by calculus), and then ended up in Natural Resource Management (and thank God I did). So, the biggest challenge I faced was not having a clear, mapped-out plan for myself. If I was to give anyone advice, that is what I would tell them. Have a plan and map it out. I was lucky to graduate as a fifth-year, even with all that jumping around. College is too expensive and your time is too valuable to not have a plan. With all that said, it is a difficult task to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life as an 18-20 year old kid. Consult with faculty, mentors, advisors, family, whoever, and figure out a successful course of action for yourself.



What did you do immediately post-graduation?

I accepted my job a few weeks before I got my diploma. I may have even started before commencement. I had no time off after graduation. However, I would have loved to take a summer off. It just wasn’t in my cards. I had been broke in school for so long that I was ready for some extra change in my pocket. Everyone’s situation is different. If you have the opportunity to take a couple months off before your job search, do it. It’s not going to make or break anything.


What was most important to you in your job search?

I wasn’t too picky about my job search. I knew where I wanted my career to end up so I knew I needed to point myself in the right direction of achieving that goal in the future. Any job that would help me attain my future goals were jobs that I looked at. It just so happened that PF was hiring. It was a wildlife position and their values lined up with mine. It was a perfect match coming out of undergrad.


How to connect with Garrett: