Kristen Black pursued a career in wildlife biology, management, and human dimensions to make a difference in how people see, use, and enjoy nature.
In May 2017, Kristen joined the Illinois Natural History Survey as a hunter recruitment specialist for the Hunter and Trapper Recruitment Program. She and her colleagues use a science-based approach to improve R3 (recruitment, retention, and reactivation) of hunters and educate the public about why hunting is an important tool for conservation.
Q. How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
A: I was raised to have an interest in the natural world and the science behind it all. As a horticulturist, my mother taught me to call plants by their scientific names (garnering tilted heads and weird looks from the other kids on the playground).
Q. Who has been a mentor to you in your science career?
A: I am fortunate to have had many mentors. Dr. Bob Warren, who inspired me throughout my undergrad career to push beyond the “glass ceiling.” David Osborn, who took it upon himself to introduce me to hunting for conservation. Krisha Faw, who continues to encourage me to strive for greatness. And Chris and Susan Felege, who continue to be a force in my life, proving that science is only bounded by what you’re willing to explore.
Q. What is the best part of your job, and what work are you most proud of?
A: The best part of my job is seeing the light bulb come on in workshop participants’ heads when they realize the benefit of hunting to conservation and nature, and become impassioned to continue doing their part for a better environmental future. I’m most proud of how far the Hunter and Trapper Recruitment Program has come as a whole in the past year; from nonexistence to being a leader in the R3 (hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation) arena through science-based implementation.
Q. What advice would you give to other female scientists?
A: Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep thriving. And always use your resources! You are the only one who can overcome your hurdles, but let people help you along the way; victory is so much sweeter when you have others with whom to celebrate.