EEB and MB Graduate Student Organizations

Name: Marion Mason

Job title: Refuge Ranger


Company: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Basic job description: I operate the visitor services program for a national wildlife refuge. I plan and coordinate all of our public programs (such as bird tours, habitat tours, bike tours, bird walks, kayak tours). I am responsible for operating a visitor center, which includes collecting entrance fees, selling permits, and giving visitors information about our facility. I train and supervise many volunteers and interns who assist the refuge. I also maintain the website, social media sites, write newsletters, create informational and interpretive signs, and issue press releases. I plan events to engage the public in conservation. I create and maintain facilities such as trails, photo blinds and viewing platforms. I do my best to engage the public with wildlife and nature and become interested in being active in conservation.

What does a typical day or week at "the office" look like for you? It is different everyday. I might be training volunteers one day, doing a tour the next, and going to a school to present to children on another. There is a lot of diversity to my job that I enjoy.

What were your graduate studies in? What aspects of your graduate training do you feel have made you more successful in your position? I have a bachelor's degree, but more and more, having a graduate degree is helpful for evaluating programs and doing research on what techniques are most effective.

What skills are essential to be effective in your career? How did you acquire these skills? Did you acquire any of these skills while in graduate school?  An understanding of ecology. Good communication skills - both oral and written. Organization skills are critical for creating schedules and keeping things running smoothly since I have a lot of people to coordinate.

What was your career path after leaving graduate school? What jobs/experiences helped you transition into your current field? I volunteered at a wildlife refuge and then got hired there. It generally takes several years of volunteer and intern experience, as well as seasonal or temporary work before landing a permanent position. Any job working with people would be beneficial.

What makes a CV/resume impressive in your field? Working with a variety of ages – i.e. children of different ages, through adults and senior citizens.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Lack of funds, lack of staff.

What is the salary range for your position/career? starting salary is generally 25-30,000 and can go up to 75,000

Are there other related careers that graduate students should look into? Environmental educator, nature center director, outdoors educator

What kind of hours do people in your profession usually work? Do they tend to bring work home with them? A non-typical schedule is generally required, including working weekends and holidays. When most people are off of work and doing leisure activities are our busy times.

Do most people with your job have a post-doc? If yes, what additional training is acquired in a post doc to make an applicant more successful in this career? No

Do you have any other useful advice for graduate students interested in your field that hasn't been covered yet? Volunteer to see if you like a job/field, and be persistent

What do you find most rewarding about your job? Opening visitors' eyes to the wonders of nature and seeing them get excited about what we are doing so they want to be a part of it.

Does your job involve travel? If so, please elaborate on approximately how many times a year you might travel and the nature of these trips (ex: workshops, conferences, presentations, etc.) Travel is required for training, and visiting sites to do presentations but is mostly local.

Is publishing research a part of your job? If so, please elaborate. No

How did you find your job?


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