Joy and life come from the land, Alicia Wiseman has always known. Her work there is a chance to explore its treasures. Her work away from it, though, helps ensure those treasures continue to flow.
As field coordinator of Ducks Unlimited’s rice stewardship program she works with others who love the land as she does, having come to know it as she did.
“I grew up farming with my family in south Lee County,” she said, adding she knew from her earliest days she wanted to remain close to the soil. From the time she discovered the field of wildlife science, she had her direction. When she saw what wetlands had to offer the ecosystem, she knew what she wanted to do. After completing a masters degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Mississippi State four years ago, she went to work for the group that bills itself the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. It’s been a match well made indeed.
Through her studies she learned there’s a balance to be had between using a resource and protecting it.
“Farmers can make a living and still do good things for wetlands and for the land,” Wiseman said. “Farmers are often thought of as being bad for the environment and wetlands, but actually they take some of the best care of the land of anyone. I wanted to help spread that message.”
Through her work she’s helping spread that message, and she’s showing farmers how to both farm and sustain wetlands at the same time.
Based in Lafayette, La., Wiseman spends roughly 10 days per month in the field doing applied science and overseeing programs.
“I work with farmers who are third-, fourth-, fifth-generation farmers,” she said. “They’ve been on that land, they’ve come back from hurricane after hurricane. They’ve seen wet winters with lots of ducks and dry winters with no ducks. For them, life is more about living on the land and raising their kids to hunt and fish than anything else. Those people have a connection and a sense of family that a lot of other people don’t have.”
It’s a connection Wiseman appreciates but, through necessity, must spend two thirds of her time without. Demands of the office keep her inside more than she’d like, but the good that’s done there may mean more than any other.
“I was told one time that a stroke of a pen can do more for conservation than a month in the field, and that’s true,” she said. “I can write grants that bring money that is far more effective than my day on the ground, but a day in the field reminds me why I’m there in the first place.”
Today, work divides her time between office and field, defining two sides of a purpose-driven life dedicated to helping others who seek the same.
“A day in the field is for my heart,” she said, “and a day in the office is for my mind.”
Just the sort of balance you’d expect one so well grounded to make.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.