Note to Our Readers

Not Just a Job

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Ann Koenig is an urban forester in Columbia

You’ve probably heard you should do what you love, and love what you do. If you work at something you’re truly committed to and passionate about, your chances to succeed greatly increase.

Many Conservation Department employees chose their careers because of experiences from their past. They grew up with people who took them outdoors — floating, fishing, hunting, hiking or camping. They learned valuable lessons as children regarding identification of wildlife and plants, the importance of clean streams and those “secret” family morel mushroom spots.

This love for the outdoors often sparks the desire to develop and protect the resources, and to teach others to do the same. John Knudsen, private land conservationist in Gasconade and Maries counties, says, “My job offers the chance to help private landowners improve their fisheries, forestry and wildlife resources and habitat. It’s very satisfying when a customer is happy with the results.” His career, like that of many Department employees, means collaborating with others to manage our natural resources.

Urban foresters, such as Ann Koenig in Columbia, are some of those collaborators. “I started out pursuing a career in health care, but quickly realized I didn’t want to be inside all day,” Koenig says. “A career in forestry gives me a chance to work together with towns and communities to make a lasting difference for their trees and habitat.”

Mary Litvan, fisheries management biologist in the Southwest region, grew up near the Springfield Nature Center but moved out of state to attend college. The quality and variety of Missouri’s streams, rivers and lakes drew her back to work for the Conservation Department. “Some of the greatest enjoyment in my job comes from working with landowners regarding aquatic issues such as stream bank stabilization or managing private ponds. It’s very satisfying to see their satisfaction and appreciation when we work together to achieve long term solutions.”

Work at the Conservation Department includes managing public lands for wildlife habitat and to improve hunting and fishing opportunities. “The hands-on biological work such as quail whistle surveys and banding doves provides my greatest satisfaction,” says Brad Jump, wildlife management biologist in the Southwest region. “Seeing the positive results for plant diversity and animal habitat just a few months after prescribed burns is also very rewarding. It’s fulfilling to see how quail counts and wildlife sightings can improve in such a short time period.”

Missouri Department of Conservation employees take great pride in providing world-class customer service and education to citizens and visitors of the state. Contact your regional office for new ways and places to discover nature. I think you’ll find the excitement and knowledge of Conservation Department employees to be quite contagious.

Debbie Strobel, human resources division chief and Tom Neubauer, human resources manager