michaela rogers kentucky fish and wildlife natural resources and environmental science university of kentucky

Michaela Rogers, NRES alum and environmental scientist at the KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Friday, September 4 is National Wildlife Day - a holiday to promote endangered species conservation and wildlife diversity across the country.

For many environmental enthusiasts, however, wildlife is celebrated year-round. No one knows this better than Michaela Rogers, a UK Natural Resources and Environmental Science alum and environmental scientist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

To learn more about conservation efforts across the state, the College caught up with Michaela for a Q&A on wildlife diversity, the great work happening at the state level, and a bit of advice for apsiring environmentalists.


How does wildlife, and wildlife conservation, impact the life of the average Kentuckian?

Wildlife is a key part of our natural resources in Kentucky. Whether someone enjoys hiking or bird watching, fishing, hunting or simply being outdoors, outdoor recreation would be lacking without wildlife. Conservation is critical to keeping our overall environment healthy for both humans and wildlife.


What are the biggest threats to Kentucky wildlife today?

One of the most universal threats faced by declining species is habitat loss and degradation, as humans continue to expand and shape the environment to our needs. Disease can also have devastating impacts, that of which we are currently seeing in species like bats, many of which are heavily impacted by white nose syndrome. Climate change will also play a huge role in how species are managed in the future.

For those interested in learning more about what the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife is doing to preserve wildlife diversity, and how to partner with us to protect wildlife, they can connect with our Kentucky Wild program.


How have conservation and education efforts changed in light of COVID-19?

Although being outdoors is encouraged during this pandemic, many of our projects require working in teams or in partnership with other agencies. Some of our larger projects have been put on hold until next field season when they can be completed safely. Many educational events have been cancelled, but it’s been encouraging to see everyone adapting their content and creating online resources to keep wildlife education accessible during this time.


As a UK alum, what advice would you give students who want to turn their passion for wildlife in to a career?

Take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to gain hands-on experience in the field, whether it be helping with graduate student research projects, or interning during the summer with a consulting company or environmental/wildlife agency. Working on projects with experienced biologists will help you gain invaluable skills and allow you to learn what your interests are. ‘Wildlife’ is an extremely broad field, and there is always something to be learned from those with specialized knowledge about a particular species group.