Wildlife Management ‘04
Master of Science in Wildlife and Forestry ‘07
Extension Wildlife Program Specialist, School of Environment and Natural Resources
Marne completed her undergraduate degree in SENR in 2004 after studying Wildlife Management with a minor in Forestry. During her time in SENR, she was involved in the student chapter of The Wildlife Society and held several internships, including one summer with the US Fish and Wildlife Services. After graduation, Marne obtained a Master of Science in Wildlife Management and Forestry, also at the Ohio State University, and is now the Extension Wildlife Program Specialist for the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Read the full interview with Marne:
A Glance at Marne’s Current Work
I’m currently working as the Extension Wildlife Program Specialist in the School of Environment and Natural Resources which is part of the Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. As part of Extension, I do a lot of outreach work related to wildlife. There is no typical workday for me, because every day is different. Some days I am preparing presentations to be given virtually or at an event located around Ohio. Other days, I'm answering emails from homeowners, landowners and other individuals who have questions about wildlife, or I’m writing articles or fact sheets. I am also involved in many committees and partnerships with folks outside of OSU, and we work together to put on programs, conferences, and publications.
Much of what I do is educating Ohioans about wildlife through presentations and talks at events. Prior to the pandemic, I would travel around the state to meet with homeowners, woodland owners, and other landowners. Some of those events would be day-long workshops, while others were just an hour or two. Due to the pandemic, I’ve found new ways to reach Ohioans through webinars and other virtual events, which I've really enjoyed.
What is the most rewarding part of your current job?
The most rewarding part of my job is the fact that I get to share the fascinating and incredibly interesting world of wildlife with Ohioans and people of all ages. I really enjoy sharing that knowledge. It's fun and exciting for me to talk about it, but if I can share some of that excitement and admiration with the audience and inspire an appreciation for nature and wildlife then that is very rewarding.
What were you involved in during college?
I was a part of the student chapter of The Wildlife Society. I was a member for a few years and then vice president for a couple years as well. I was also a part of the Forestry Forum and I volunteered at the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. I started volunteering with the Metro Parks in 2001 and still do to this day. I participated in a few other school wildlife-related activities and was able to help with research project a few times. I would jump in where I could.
I also had several internships during the summers while I was in college. My first internship was at the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. I worked as a Biological Technician for the US Fish and Wildlife Services. The following summer, I interned with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service as a Wildlife Technician where, I worked at the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Michigan. The third internship I had was as a Naturalist Intern with the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. I worked at Sharon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, OH, where I learned a lot about environmental education All of these internships were a lot of fun, and the last one as a naturalist intern, set me on my future career path.
What advice would you give to someone who is still in college and hoping to do what you do?
Definitely pay attention in your communication and environmental education classes. I came to my career in a roundabout way, so if I could go back to my undergraduate or graduate years, I would take more of those classes. They help you build basic communication skills, which are necessary in pretty much any natural resources job, where you will spend a good amount of time working with the public.
Also, try to get as much experience as possible. Open yourself up, volunteer your time, and try not to limit yourself geographically and monetarily. That may not be possible for everyone, but take the time in your undergraduate experience to go out west or out of the country and really take advantage of those opportunities.
Lastly, get involved in student and/or professional organizations. It’s a great way to network with professionals, gain experience, and find potential job opportunities. Many professional organizations welcome student participation or have a student chapter that is more than welcome at annual conferences and state meetings.
What was a challenge you faced in your professional development and how did you overcome it?
Immediately after graduating, I attended graduate school and obtained a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Management and Forestry at OSU. I went into both my undergrad and graduate degrees with the intention of becoming a wildlife researcher or biologist. However, I was halfway through my graduate degree when I realized that I wasn’t on the right path. I knew I was in the right field, but the research side wasn’t what I wanted to do. That was a definitive and scary moment in my professional development – admitting to myself that what I had been working towards wasn’t quite right.
What did I do? I turned to one of my past bosses, Jerry Rodriguez, and he gave me some of the best advice I had ever received. He told me, “At the end of the day you need to choose a career that makes you happy. You are going to spend so much of your life dedicated to it, that it better make you happy, otherwise, you’re going to be miserable.” After talking with him and those close to me, that’s what I decided to do. I spent time exploring other opportunities and towards the end of my graduate degree, took a job with the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks as a naturalist intern. In that job, I found my passion for teaching and my future career path. I finished my graduate degree and shortly after applied for my current job. I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue a career I really enjoyed.
What experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?
The experience that I feel was most valuable in my professional development was hands-down my internships and the people I met during those experiences. All three added to my experience, and they moved me along in my career path. I didn’t end up where I thought I would when I first started college, which is why my internships were so valuable – they helped me get to where I am.
What was most important to you in your job search?
When I was looking for internships, there were no deal breakers. I remember being told by Dr. Bob Gates to go out and get internships and don’t be picky about the pay or location because the experience and job training is more important. So if you are able, really take advantage of your time in college and get at much experience as possible. When I began job hunting after grad school, I knew I was looking for a job in environmental education. Finding a position where I would be able to teach about wildlife, forestry, and nature was the more important thing. It was also important to find a place where I could develop good working relationships with my colleagues, and a place where I would be comfortable and excited (for the most part, haha) to go to work every day. I found that here in the school and I am so grateful for it.
How to connect with Marne:
Phone call: 614-292-0402
If you’re interested in any of the Extension workshops, be sure to check out the Ohio Woodland Stewards website - https://woodlandstewards.osu.edu/
Post created July 2021