Ann's role at FWRI is to ensure that FWRI's research activities
work together with and support management goals.
B.S. Marine Biology, Texas A&M University,
Aquaculturist, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.,
Aquaculturist, Smithsonian Institute, Turks & Caicos Islands,
Aquaculturist, Panacea, FL
Fish Health Group, FWRI, St. Petersburg, FL, 1989-2004
Research Coordinator, FWRI, St. Petersburg, 2004-present
What are you working on now?
Well, I moved out of the role of a hands-on scientist and into
administration as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) reorganization. My role or mission is
to ensure that our research activities work together with and
support management goals. We're using a one-size-doesn't-fit-all
approach to integration; it's an evolving process because of the
wide variety of research and management activities within the FWC.
In addition to integration, some of the other projects I've been
working on are co-chairing the recent Section Leaders meeting,
helping launch the Operations of FWC, working with the Research
Coordinating Team, and a handful of other teams. I'm also part of
FWC's Strategy and Planning Office so I work on some agency-wide
Was work in your current field your original career
interest? Why or why not?
No, this sort of evolved. My original career interest was in
marine biology, specifically mariculture. When I graduated I would
have never imagined that I would be doing this type of work. My
first position at the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
(FWRI) was with the fish health group, which helped support the
activities at the hatchery at Port Manatee. I worked at Port
Manatee for a few years as their first on-site fish health
When I returned to St. Petersburg, I learned a lot about other
parts of the agency through the Fish Kill Hotline. Since the
hotline is a toll-free number we got a lot of interesting calls not
related to fish kills. We would get calls like, "There's a raccoon
in my canal that's swimming, what do I do with it?" to "Somebody
hit a deer," to "There's a bear in my back yard" to alligator
nuisance calls. With that group I got an excellent working
knowledge about who to call with different issues. I learned of a
lot of people within the agency. I evolved into a leadership role
within that group and worked to combine the fish health groups'
activities with others in the agency. The fish health group,which
is now the Fish and Wildlife Health group,focuses on marine sport
fish health issues, but we pursued opportunities to go out in the
field with different groups and learned new and different
procedures. We worked with the freshwater fisheries staff in
Eustis, Lakeland, and the St. Johns River. We also learned how to
electroshock and helped with the fish kill investigations in inland
lakes. Our science expanded and improved because of the new
techniques and experiences we gained by working with these other
What would you say is your biggest
I hope that the biggest impact and most positive impact I have had
on the agency since I've been in my new position has been to pull
together staff that would normally not interact. I think I've
helped increase the communications between FWRI and the Divisions
What do you like most about your career?
I think it is the variety of things I get to learn and do. Every
day is different. I get requests for different things to react to
at every level, from the Governor's office to a school group. I
have the opportunity to meet staff around the state and learn what
they are doing. It's a privilege to work in an organization that
has so many people that are so dedicated and passionate about their
jobs. It's a challenge sometimes but I'm always learning. There
have been very few days that I come to work and think "I'd rather
be somewhere else."
What do you like least about your career?
There are some aspects of my job that are less pleasant than
others, but I don't really have any negatives about my career. I
don't even think of it as a career-it's something I enjoy doing
because I believe that we as the FWRI and FWC are making a
difference. My friends ask about all the meetings I attend and
wonder if I don't grow tired of them, but I don't see meetings as
being negative. I've accepted that some meetings are not as
interesting as others, but face-to-face communication and
broadening my perspective, to include law enforcement or hunting
and game, for example, is critical to providing the best resource
protection that the agency is capable of.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Right now one of my biggest challenges is to balance my schoolwork
with my work schedule and still have some personal time. I'm really
looking forward to finishing my MBA this summer!
What advice would you give to someone interested in
pursuing a career in your field?
I think those interested in any career should take some steps to
find out if that is really what they want to do. Becoming an intern
or volunteering in a field can give you an idea of whether you like
it enough to pursue a career in it. You may find out that you don't
really like being out in the field or pulling a net or cutting fish
or sitting at a microscope for eight hours a day. I can think of
nothing worse than going to a job every day that you don't like.
Volunteering can also lead to employment opportunities, if you can
swing it financially. I volunteered with the Smithsonian Institute
and I finally got a job with them and they sent me to the Caribbean
to work on some mariculture projects in the Turks and Caicos
Islands. That led to a pretty good position. It was an incredible
experience in my life. The location was a dream job but the work
was challenging and exciting and it made up for the downside of
living in a Quonset hut without running water or intermittent
electricity and having to catch some of our own food. I guess my
advice is to take advantage of every opportunity to find a career
you really enjoy and don't be afraid to grow out of your field and
try a new one.