Where are you working and what do you do there?
I’m the Government Outreach Team Leader for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ 19-county West Central Region. I administer our region's Lake, River and Aquatic Invasive Species Control Grants as well as grants for the development of boat landings and shorefishing facilities. I also coordinate the review of waterway access abandonment proposals. My team administers a wide range of recreation and conservation grant/environmental loan programs. I also supervise grant program and water access staff in our 18-county Northern Region.
What is your typical work day like?
I spend a lot of time in the office, helping staff with issues and coordinating with my counterparts and our bureau in Madison. Paperwork involves review of grant proposals, grant payment requests, waterway access abandonment proposals, etc. I spend time on the phone, in online meetings, responding to e-mails, and using of online mapping and grant tracking programs. I also get out of the office occasionally, meeting with project sponsors, doing project inspections, and inspecting and inventorying waterway access sites.
What path did you take to your current career, were there other jobs along the way?
I graduated from UWEC in Dec. of 1981 with a double major: Journalism and Speech (broadcast and film emphasis). I worked at WAXX-FM/WAYY-AM through my last year of school, reporting on the news and producing/delivering morning drive newscasts. After graduation, I was hired as a general assignment reporter and weekend anchor at WKOW-TV in Madison. I worked there for about eight years, including six months when I served as the News Assignment Editor.
I joined the Department of Natural Resources in 1990 as a Public Affairs Manager with the DNR’s Bureau of Communication and Education. I served as a liaison to the news media and worked with the department’s Division of Enforcement to develop outreach materials on issues such as recreational safety and environmental review. I wrote and directed a number of videos for the department and coordinated the division’s Public Service Announcements and media buys. Department reorganization in the late 1990’s gave me a chance to move back to Eau Claire, take on a supervisory position, and spend more time working out in the field.
How did your liberal arts education at UW-Eau Claire help prepare you for your career?
I took a lot of Political Science course work at UWEC. That understanding of government and politics suited me well for reporting and for eventual work in state government. I studied a lot of history as well, and have always been interested in our past. With my background in broadcast production, I’ve been able to turn that interest toward production of oral histories which have become a valuable tool for passing institutional knowledge on to new staff in the agency. I can’t say enough about the value of journalism training in helping people become strong communicators in whatever professions they pursue.
Is there something more you wish you would have done in college to prepare for your career?
I never did study foreign languages. And, while I don’t have a professional need at this time, I feel a more formalized understanding of Spanish may be useful in the years ahead, both in the community and in my travels.
What advice do you have for UW-Eau Claire students to become successful in their own careers?
Find something you love to do, whether it’s writing, science, math, arts, or work with people. Find an activity you lose yourself within, losing track of time as you exercise your creativity and feel productive. Try to build your career around that. Somebody smart once said, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”