Prairie and Native Plant Careers

Rachel Settle

Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist II
Quail Forever
Ste. Genevieve

Where did you study and what was your major field of study?
Missouri State University, B.S. Wildlife Biology, M.S. Biology

Briefly describe your current job.
I work with private landowners to improve wildlife habitat and soil health, restore degraded natural communities, and increase public awareness on the importance of quality wildlife habitat for Missouri’s natural resources.

How do you use your native plant and/or prairie knowledge in your career today?
Most importantly, plant identification is necessary to assess habitat conditions and restoration success. Knowing the importance of native plants to various wildlife species, soil health, and water quality is extremely helpful when educating the public and landowners on why we need to manage for and plant natives.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your current work?
Being a part of unique habitat restoration projects such as glades and woodlands.

What native plant/prairie classes or trainings were especially important to your career?
Plant taxonomy, plant identification

What other subjects have you studied that have been important to your career?
Behavioral ecology, population ecology

Please describe volunteer or field work that was formative to your education and career.
Several unpaid internships– Saint Louis Zoo, Dickerson Park Zoo, Wonders of Wildlife–and assisting graduate students with their field work

What materials and technology are must-haves for your field?
OnX Hunt app, GPS units, compact field guides for species identification purposes

What advice would you give students or others wanting to go into your field?
Don’t be afraid to travel and take on different types of field work! Having a wide variety of skills in the field will make you more competitive in your career. It can also help you define what exactly you want–or don’t want!–to do. You’ll get to meet other biologists and field experts along the way which builds up your conservation network.