Meet Alumna Lois Johnson-Mead | Environmental Biology M.S.,17
"Take the best of what you learn at Hood College and meld it with your passions"
- Environmental Biology (M.S.)
- Geographic Information Systems (C)
Can you give a quick bio? Any general background that you like to share, as well as your educational and career background.
I am a biologist, an educator, and a conservationist with two degrees in Biological Sciences . I earned a B.S. in Biology from Saint Joseph’s University and a M.S. in Environmental Biology from Hood College.
While in graduate school, I was selected as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Directorate Fellow working at Headquarters in the Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species in 2015. As a DFP Fellow, I authored invasive species risk assessment reports and developed a social media outreach platform to prevent foreign aquatic infestations into the Great Lakes region. I completed my Hood College graduate requirement assessing and documenting the prey delivery, parental care, and feeding behavior of a breeding bald eagle nest housed at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC).
In 2016, serving as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern, I used my extensive background in science education to support the NCTC Division Education and Outreach team to advance their professional development, conservation training, and diversity initiatives. My other passions center on dabbling in research, helping learners gain 21st century skills in nature connection and championing conservation awareness for underrepresented members of our country.
You are a great inspiration for our current ENV students. Can you tell us about your new role as USFWS Biologist at the National Conservation Training Center (WV)?
At the NCTC facility, I serve as a Wildlife Biologist focused on next-generation workforce recruitment and science leadership building to meet the mission goals of the Service who want to engage highly qualified scientists and researchers for federal service. I think it’s ironic that I am starting my federal work-life helping to get excellent science-focused employees into federal work because one of my secret hopes as a former science teacher was to have ALL my students tell me they were going to be scientists.
My new role also includes assisting with a unique program, the Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress, the only national program designed for youth leaders interested in addressing environmental and conservation issues facing Native American, Alaskan Native, and Pacific Islander communities. The Congress will include a diverse mix of urban and rural Native students and mentors from various geographic locations, and discuss environmental change and conservation while developing leadership skills.
As I studied for my ENV degree, I kept thinking about ways educators and leaders can motivate more culturally and intellectually diverse students into STEM majors and hiring, and now my new job includes helping to make that dream a reality within the Dept. of the Interior.
How did you make the best use of your Environment Biology and Education skills?
What I learned from studying Environmental Biology at Hood College is that we are all collectively important in supporting conservation and enhancing best practices in resource management. Those lessons started with earliest classes with April Boulton, Ph.D. , and continued as I learned the power and potential of GIS and statistics with Eric Kindahl, Ph.D., and finally were solidified in my courses and final projects with Eric Annis, P.h.D. and Sue Carney, Ph.D. I see know that we need many voices in our heads to help us move forward and find our way. Teaming and learning go together at Hood College.
One of the ways I plan to use my education skills and time in schools is by encouraging work environments to keep the neuro-atypical in mind when recruiting, working with new hires, and onboarding staff. The way your mind works is key to your success at work and the overall output of the group. I hope my knowledge about intellectual diversity will benefit USFWS’s recruiters, trainers, and leadership as they work to meet future conservation challenges.
What advice would you like to give current ENV students who are looking for jobs?
Take the best of what you learn at Hood College and meld it with your passions. As you look for jobs, ask yourself honest questions: where do you want to be?, what are you excited about?, and what can you improve in the world?
This self-examination will allow you to find the places where you can push boundaries and look inside to discover what you want to explore and what you care to support. I encourage students to try different classes, stretch beyond their normal expectations; join in on events, lectures, and symposiums that can stretch your thinking and potential. Hood College faculty asked me to examine how I think, what I care about, and to discover so much more than I expected. I hope all new graduate students, especially international students, will give themselves the chance to embrace those opportunities; after all, that’s the Hood Way!
What did you enjoy about Hood College? Do you have a favorite memory?
I love being outdoors and especially on water, so my favorite memory at Hood College was being invited to travel down the Potomac River to assess the health of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population on a historic buyboat for a marine ecology course. This moment was not only memorable but it showed how my Hood professor, Eric Annis, Ph.D. was so generous and mindful in creating a 1-Hood Community attitude for the environmental student body by encouraging graduate students to join undergraduate students on a learning adventure. Being a part of a discovery team showed me the potential of my graduate degree and connected me with real-world issues and possible solutions.
Any other information/fun facts you would like to add?
My family and friends were integral in making me feel supported and engaged. My husband, sister, and brother kept me on my toes, my colleagues silently cheered me on, while my big dog, Thor, always knew when I needed a dog walk to keep me going as I finished my degree requirements. What would I have done without all of them!