Stephanie Schmidt, a graduate student researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), always loved spending time outdoors as a kid. Now, she works with advisors, Auriel Fournier, director of the Forbes Biological Station and Thomas J. Benson, senior wildlife ecologist who leads the Critical Trends Assessment Program at INHS, to help protect spaces and the species that mean so much to her.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a forest ranger or a zookeeper when I grew up.
What drew you to study birds?
I have always loved spending time outdoors and I feel an obligation to protect the spaces and the species that mean so much to me.
What do you love about your work at PRI?
I love my field site and the birds I study. Emiquon Preserve is absolutely stunning, and I feel so lucky to be able to conduct my research there. Also, the marsh bird chicks are really silly looking, and I love watching them grow in the nest.
How will your work impact future generations?
I hope my work will draw more attention to management impacts on secretive species and the importance behind wetland conservation.