New Wetlands Project Director
The Hoosier Chapter has hired a new director, Susan Leigh Thomas, for its Wetlands Project. Susan was hired to replace our former director, Patty Werner, who moved to Chicago last winter. Susan will continue to advance the Project's goals of educating the public about the value of wetlands conservation and promoting increased citizen and community involvement in conservation opportunities.
Susan's extensive knowledge of wetlands and broad work experience made her an excellent choice for the Directors position; she had just the scientific training, teaching experience, computer knowledge and management skills that the Chapter was hoping to find.
Most recently from Maine, Susan worked with The Nature Conservancy to provide the state with detailed, mapped descriptions of significant wetlands in southern Maine. Based at the Maine Natural Areas Program, she updated their topographical database of rare plants, exemplary natural communities and registered critical areas, and developed a state-wide, GIS-based coastal map documenting representative sites of marine and estuarine habitats for the State Planning Office.
Working for Maine's Atlantic Sea-Run Salmon Commission, Susan performed population assessments and habitat surveys, managed the Commissions databases and communicated the Commissions conservation mandate and needs to property owners, anglers, media and government officials. She has also researched methods of biological-control of gypsy and brown-tail moths for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Otis, Massachusetts.
Susan held several teaching positions in Massachusetts. While at the University of Massachusetts, where she obtained her graduate degree in animal behavior, she taught field techniques for the assessment of physical, chemical and biotic components of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems for laboratory courses in limnology, avian field studies, and invertebrate zoology. She also worked as a naturalist for inner-city children at the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary during the summer and fall months. Says Susan: I learned how challenging yet valuable outreach and education are for people who do not have the same access as I do to the study and conservation of our natural heritage. The enthusiasm for learning that these children expressed was a great lesson for me.
The Chapters hiring committee believes that Susan's scientific training and environmental education background will serve her well in her new position. Susan has already proven herself a very hard worker, as well as an adaptable one. She has walked into a position with little opportunity to receive training from her predecessor, weathered a move of the Wetlands office, and taken charge of fulfilling the many objectives of the Project. It will be interesting to see how Susan's experiences and beliefs will shape the Project!
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