A couple of months ago blog reader, R Bugden, asked if we might give an update on some of the students and technicians that have passed through the deer research program over the years. We thought it was a great idea! I dug up as many emails as I could find and hit send. Here’s what came back:
April Sperfslage (Crew Leader 2015-2018)
I am currently working in Louisiana as a biologist-contractor with Colorado State University on a military base. I assist in monitoring game populations on the property. Overall, I have taken an interest in and focus heavily on bobwhite ecology and habitat use and am currently in the process working on a research proposal to test seasonal importance of habitat treatment applications to bobwhites. I am still lucky to have variety in my daily work schedule. I am involved in everything from reptile and amphibian surveys to southern flying squirrel trapping to dealing with nuisance alligators. While this is a permanent position, I am still exploring options for graduate school. I have interviewed for a few positions, but no bites yet. Life has been good overall though, so I can’t complain!
Dr. Danielle Begley-Miller (Graduate Student)
The better question would be what am I not doing now?!
I’m the Director of Science and Stewardship at Teatown Lake Reservation, a 1,000 acre non-profit nature preserve located in the Lower Hudson Valley, NY (read more at: https://www.teatown.org/). I run all of our science research while directing Teatown’s land management. My team and I are responsible for monitoring and managing Teatown’s wildlife, three lakes, 15-miles of trails, 22-acres of restored meadows, and invasive species (I miss the relatively uninvaded PA forests!). I also adjunct at Pace University where I teach and mentor both graduate and undergraduate students.
I really do look fondly back at my time at Penn State, including fieldwork (despite the many bruises after dense bush-wacking and the very long days). I always slept best after long days in the field.
Hannah White (Crew Leader 2015-2017)
Thank you for prompting a stroll down memory lane. To this day, my time in Pennsylvania is some of my most cherished. Something about those Appalachian Mountains and the camaraderie among fellow deer wranglers. I miss it often. Still the best “job” I’ve had the pleasure of doing. Thank you.
After Pennsylvania, I spent two summers chasing sage grouse through the vast expanses of high desert in eastern Oregon, then one year conducting thesis research on Blanding’s turtles in Illinois, before transferring to the University of Minnesota, where I am now finishing up a master’s in GIS. I spent last summer working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a lake sturgeon project, and following graduation next month, I will be heading to Alaska for a permanent position with USFWS again as a Data Management Specialist.
The Susquehannock will always hold a special place in my heart. But above all, it’s the friendships that I hold “deer.” Cheers to PA, and all those still on the frontlines of field research.
Nathan Kluge (Crew Leader 2017-2018)
Since being crew leader in the north, I spent a year and a half as Wisconsin DNR’s statewide wolf biologist where I coordinated all wolf research efforts across the state. It was an amazing position to have, but I left in order to pursue a Master’s degree back at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where I did my undergrad. I am now investigating the influence of hard mast production on Wisconsin’s black bear harvest. This project has brought me back to my roots as a black bear biologist aide in PA when I was trapping bears in Rothrock and Bald Eagle for the fawn study. The experiences that I received while working in PA on the deer study were huge assets to getting to where I am today. I really enjoyed all of the skills and experience that I gained while in PA trapping deer, capturing fawns and capturing black bears.
Maureen Kinlan (Crew Leader 2017)
Currently, I’m finishing up my Master’s project at Kansas State University. We just finished our final year of adult capture. In total we aerially caught and GPS/VHF collared 180 does (90 white-tailed and 90 mule deer) and 111 males (mixture of mule deer and white-tailed deer) over three years. My portion of the project focuses on the males. To put it broadly my three chapters include: space use (home range and core-use area, sizes and interspecific overlap), movement patterns with an emphasis on rut and the influence of hunting, and resource selection. I’m hoping to defend my thesis early this fall. I have one more field season of fawning here before I can do that! I realized the other day it will be my fourth summer in a row catching fawns!
Tess Gingery (Graduate Student)
After the fawn survival project ended, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science in spring of 2018. Since then I have been employed by the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State and work with the Pennsylvania Game Commission as the Data Manager for statewide capture and GPS monitoring efforts. I miss working with the fawn crews and waking up to emails alerting me that a brand-new baby fawn had been born in the night! Thankfully, I stay in touch with many of the wonderful people that worked on the Deer-Forest project over the years.
Tony Del Valle (Crew Member 2016 & 2017)
After my time in PA, I moved on to a number of different wildlife tech positions in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, mostly involving bird research and conservation. I’ve known birds were a passion of mine even before working with the deer crew, and I have been fortunate to be able to focus my career towards ornithological conservation and research. I am currently a first-year Master’s student at Northern Illinois University. My thesis research focuses on studying the impact of reintroduced bison and prescribed fire on grassland birds in tallgrass prairie preserves in IL and IN.