Just shy of three years ago, I took a bold leap and joined the GCPO LCC team as Geomatics Coordinator. I can now say without a doubt that it was one of the best decisions of my life. When I first introduced myself as LCC staff I said “I believe whole-heartedly in the partnership-based vision necessary to address landscape-scale ecological sustainability.” That sentiment is even stronger today as we’ve made such tremendous progress working toward the first LCC conservation blueprint, and subsequently, the first iteration of the Southeastern Conservation Adaptation Strategy. I echo what I said in 2014 – “it is an exciting time to work in the conservation field, a time that requires us to think smarter, more efficiently, and more strategically.” Just think about it…. over the last few years we as a conservation community have accomplished something that has never been done before at this scale. We have come together with differing visions and missions across our partnership in an unprecedented effort to identify the network of lands and waters most important to us, most vulnerable to loss, and most critical to the conservation landscape – reflecting our core conservation values and priorities – to leave a conservation legacy for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Though we are far from done, I am personally so proud that I have had the opportunity to work with the visionaries who have brought us this far. I’ve had many fond thoughts toward the future when someday I will reflect back on this time and will proudly say I was privileged enough to work side-by-side with these individuals. It has been thrilling to be a part of this monumental effort, and our southern style conservation approach has afforded me countless warm relationships that I look forward to carrying on throughout my career.
However, as it did nearly three years ago, good fortune has once again bestowed itself on me, though this time the decision was not an easy one to make (as many of my colleagues can attest to!). After the first of the year, I will be transitioning from LCC Geomatics Coordinator to a new role as cooperative research liaison between the GCPO LCC and Mississippi State University. At that time I will be transitioning to the MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture to take on a new position as Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology. As conservation biology faculty I’ll have the opportunity to build a research program focused on sustaining biodiversity in the Southeastern U.S. and beyond, as well as prepare the next generation of conservationists through teaching and mentoring. However, I will remain affiliated with the MSU Geosystems Research Institute and will continue my LCC duties managing the cooperative agreement with MSU, as well as participating in LCC science and geomatics endeavors. I'm looking forward to this new challenge that awaits me, though I cannot express enough how much of a pleasure it has been serving our partnership in the Geomatics Coordinator role the past nearly 3 years. I have so enjoyed helping to shape geospatial science activities of the LCC, and helping to deliver geospatial science via our Conservation Planning Atlas. A sincere thank you goes to the amazing staff, steering committee, and long list of collaborators that comprise the LCC for welcoming me with open arms and for the continued support as I take on this new role. We will be announcing our new LCC Geomatics Coordinator shortly after the New Year, and expect that individual to offer a seamless transition in geomatics activities.
So I’m not really going to say goodbye, as I will still be around, though serving in a different capacity. I guess I’ll just say that I wish you all a warm and happy holiday season, and I look forward to our continued collaboration next year! And as I always say, don’t hesitate to contact me if you ever need anything!