NJ biologist recognized for efforts to save endangered wildlife

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Biologist Wendy Walsh (holding a red knot here) of our New Jersey Field Office is receiving the Women and Wildlife Leadership Award from one of our partner organizations. She was recognized by our director earlier this year as an endangered species recovery champion too! Photo courtesy of Wendy.

One of our very own biologists, Wendy Walsh, will be among the three individuals honored tonight by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey at the 11th annual Women & Wildlife Awards.

The awards recognize the recipients’ achievements, the advances they have made for women in their professions, their efforts to increase awareness of rare species and the habitats they depend on, and their contributions to New Jersey’s wildlife.

Mara Cige of CWF writes: As a senior fish and wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 Women & Wildlife Leadership Award Winner Wendy Walsh has proven herself invaluable in the endangered species field for her work with wildlife such as the piping plover, swamp pink, and seabeach amaranth.

Her most notable work is with the red knot. Ms. Walsh took the species lead in the middle of the federal listing process. Her tireless efforts coordinating, analyzing and interpreting data, particularly detailing the effects of changing climate on these long-distance migrant shorebirds has made her work widely acclaimed as the final rule.

From biology to policy, she has an uncanny ability to grasp important information and translate it for any species she finds herself working with. She has created partnerships with additional organizations to accelerate conservation efforts. In such collaborations, Ms. Walsh’s open-mindedness to others’ expertise makes for effective planning and implementation of the vision she has to one day recover all threatened and endangered species.

By acknowledging these special individuals, we hope to encourage more young women to strive to make a positive impact on species and habitat protection, especially through the biological sciences.

Check out this Q&A between Mara and Wendy.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
“I love that I’m constantly learning something new. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to learn about and observe so many species, and I’ve had the chance to really get to know a few in particular — piping plovers, seabeach amaranth, bog turtles, swamp pink, and red knots. And I’ve had the opportunity to work on such a wide range of issues — utility lines, transportation, mitigation, stormwater, beach nourishment, bird collision, volunteer programs, restoration, fishery management, listing, and most recently aquaculture. I’m very fortunate to have a job where there is always a new learning opportunity on the horizon.”

Do you have a New Jersey wildlife species that you like best? Why?
“From a non-scientific point of view, I love watching dragonflies and wading birds with my kids, and taking the family to count and tag horseshoe crabs. But professionally, I’m partial to the beach species I’ve worked on — piping plovers, red knots, seabeach amaranth. I enjoy the beach ecosystem, and I feel a responsibility to these beach-dependent species that face so many challenges along New Jersey’s human-dominated coast.”

What interests you the most about New Jersey’s wildlife?
“I’m fascinated at the contrast between New Jersey’s really remarkable habitats and ecosystems in the context of our equally remarkable human population density. Generations of pioneering conservationists from past decades have allowed our State’s wildlife to persist even with so many people. I view our generation — and my kids’ — as stewards of that conservation legacy.”

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?
“I love spending time with my family, such as taking trips with my husband, Mac, and two daughters, as well as time with extended family — Mom, brothers, cousins. I enjoy working with my kids’ Girls Scout troops and helping at their schools.”

Join us in congratulating Wendy!

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