Kenyan political activist Wangari Maathai once said, “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them”. Maathai’s words perfectly enrapture what being a Natural Resource Manager is all about. This job is to educate children and adults alike the wonders of nature and how to appreciate and protect our world.
In accordance with the book Green Careers, a Natural Resources Manger would fall into a category of Natural and Land Resource Management but also into the category of Green Education.
Natural and Land Resource Management includes Fish and Game Wardens, Wildlife Officers, Park Naturalists, Park Rangers, Interpreters, Range Managers, and Natural Resource Managers. Encompassing these two categories is what the title of Natural Resource Manager means at Beall Woods State Park. However, earning this title does take a bit of schooling and training. To become a Natural Resource Manager, you must get a bachelor’s degree.
Furthermore, there are many educational paths you can take. Any bachelor’s degree in biology or environmental science will do but you can pursue a more specific discipline. You can also go more generalized as well by obtaining a degree in biology, forestry, botany, zoology, geology, or park management. Working in the field some jobs may require a master’s degree or even a doctorate. As well as if you are going into a teaching position, your master’s degree or Ph.D. will be required depending on the organization.
Although there are no pre-required trainings, most Natural Resource Managers will learn crucial training on the job within the first few weeks as well as continuous training for current projects and planning.
After education and training the big question now is where to work. The work field of a Natural Resource Manager is high in demand. This job can be done all over the world, which allows the demand to stay at large. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. college graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment are highly sought-after. In fact, the department has predicted almost 58,000 average annual openings for recent graduates over the next few years. (“Becoming a Natural Resource Manager,” 2019) With this job’s rising high demand, the salary has been somewhat on the rise as well. In May of 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that conservation scientists, including natural resource managers, earned an average annual wage of $63,800, with the top- paying average wage of $84,970. (“The phenomenal demand for Environment,”)
Therefore, there are many perks to being a Natural Resource Manager, but also some disappointments as well. After interviewing Jacque Cullison, Natural Resource Manager at Beall Woods State Park, I found just what she loves about the job and the parts that are a little harder. Getting to where she is in her job took many years of hard work. She first got interested in nature as she grew up spending most of her time outdoors. Her grandfather began taking her fishing as soon as she could walk. From there, they shared many hunting, fishing, and sporting events together. As she got older, she would collect insects, leaves, and began her interest in everything from microorganisms to the largest tree specimen she could find. This lead her eventually to Wabash Valley College to earn her Associate degree in Science and Associate in Science and Arts. Transferring to the University of Southern Indiana, she continued her education completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Sharing her “love of nature with all ages and inspiring individuals’ curiosity about not only specific species of flora and fauna but taking a look at the big picture; the amazing interconnection of organisms occurring in the environment around them.” is her favorite part of the job. She also loves creating or enhancing the wildlife habitat with projects such as establishing pollination gardens, building nesting boxes, and planting trees. Education is also one of Jacque’s preferred activities, she loves being able to share her passion with all ages of school students hoping to inspire someone like she was. “It’s always exciting meeting visitors from all over the world and being able to hear about their travel experiences.” But Jacque does wish that some visitors were more respectful of the park and the property, understanding what a unique and wonderful environment they are able to use as a recreational and educational resource. “Littering and vandalism are always disappointing to see.”
Natural Resource Manager is not a job title I thought I would ever see myself having. I’ve always had a love for and been interested in nature. Although, I have mostly leaned towards the ocean aspect of nature, this job does have an appeal to me. Natural Resource Manager is not a job I think I would have ever considered if I had not interned at Beall Woods State Park. After working with some incredible people and seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes of the park, I solidified my love for working with children and learning and hearing stories from people around the world. As I stated before, working with children is something I am very passionate about. Jacque does programs for educational outreach, and even creates study tubs for teachers to use with all the materials they would need to teach an environmental subject while learning about the topic themselves. Although I will not be going specifically into this field, I will use these ideas and education methods in the future, possibly with a research lab or even an aquarium education program. I would not say that this job is my perfect fit and it is not what I want to do for my future career, but the experience was amazing, and I will be able to take the skills I learned to every future job to come.
Natural Resource Management is no small task. After a minimum of four years of schooling and then job hunting, they become responsible for the extremely important job of educating children and adults alike about the wonders of nature and how to appreciate and protect our world. Although, the road to becoming a Natural Resource Manager can be long, the job is filled with exciting moments and wonderful stories. For anyone with the love of nature this job can be rewarding in many ways. Not only continuing to foster their own passion and knowledge of nature but being able to share it and inspire others as well.