Prairie and Native Plant Careers
Director of Prairie Management
Missouri Prairie Foundation
Where did you study and what was your major field of study?
University of Missouri – Columbia
Briefly describe your current job.
Manage approximately 4000 acres of remnant prairie and reconstructed prairie across Missouri. Management consists of invasive species management, prescribed burning, prairie reconstructions, flora and fauna inventories, as well as annual project planning, grant management and other administrative functions.
How do you use your native plant and/or prairie knowledge in your career today?
Native plant ID is essential to prairie management. Without knowledge of plant species and prairie systems, I would not be able to successfully perform my work duties.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your current work?
Seeing the response from natives after management is performed, such as prescribed burning or treating fescue with herbicide.
What native plant/prairie classes or trainings were especially important to your career?
Botany trainings in the field and multi-day trainings/tours over the course of several years proved to be the most beneficial.
What other subjects have you studies that have been important to your career?
Pollinator and herpetological trainings have been very helpful along the way.
Please describe volunteer or field work that was formative to your education and career.
Treating sericea lespedeza and collecting seed on Tucker Prairie gave me an appreciation for prairie early in my career.
What materials and technology are must-haves for your field?
Field ID books and ArcGIS knowledge are “must haves.”
What advice would you give students or others wanting to go into your field?
I would strongly recommend getting as much field experience as possible during and after college, even if this is volunteer experience or seasonal work. This will help set you apart from people who simply have a college degree, which is becoming very common and in many cases is a minimum requirement today. I would also recommend getting a Master’s degree if possible. This will also help set you apart from the crowd and will greatly increase your potential for promotion and career expansion in the future.