I walk into my office to see a new stack of outdoor magazines placed on my desk, ripe for the reading. One cover dons a walleye, another a collared- lizard, the third, a brown bear. They come from all over the US from state agencies just like KDWPT. I quickly thumb through a few looking for inspiration, admiring photography, and to size up my peers. I take a picture of a design element I’d like to recreate in our next magazine issue. On the next page, an article on training a pup for upland bird hunting catches my eye. I flag it with a Post-it note to read it later.
My attention switches to my computer screen. Fourteen messages await my response. A fifteenth e-mail has just arrived from a coworker, displaying an album of his weekend fishing adventures. His is the first I read. I admire his catches, find a handful of shots I can use for future projects, and thank him for sharing. It’s one of many emails that are a joy to open.
I break away from my inbox to finish writing a press release on upcoming, family-friendly outdoor events. I make a quick call to a park office to verify some details, and the staff member’s enthusiasm for their kids’ fishing derby brings a smile to my face.
I hang up the phone to continue typing when my attention is turned to the door. I have a visitor. While standing to shake his hand, I am complimented on my office décor – a beautiful
mount of a wood duck pair, in particular. Little did he know, it’s my favorite piece.
The conversation comes to a close and my Google calendar reminds me it’s time for my weekly meeting. I grab my notepad, phone, planner, and a list of items to tackle this week. I pass one of our fisheries biologists on the way and say “hello.” He tells me there’s a good photo opportunity just outside the building on the fishing pond. I thank him for the tip and scribble “camera” on my notepad. I’ll investigate the pond after my meeting.
While waiting for the teleconference to begin, I thumb through the agency’s Facebook page and answer a few messages. A father has shared a photo and brief account of his son’s first turkey hunt. The child in the picture is beaming. I write back a thoughtful reply, glad he has found success in the field.
Each day is like this: an intertwining of business, wildlife, graphic design, meetings, photography, fact-checking, writing, and exploring. It’s my dream job.
|One of my "outdoor office" adventures: banding geese.|
This is done during the molt cycle when geese are
flightless for two to three weeks in late June/early July.
I’m lucky. Not because I “win” all the time (I assure you, I don’t), not because I’m flush with money (I’m struggling like everyone else), and not because I always find a fish on the end of my line (I’ve had more get away than I care to think about), but I’m lucky nonetheless. I’m lucky because I get to do what I love almost every day. I’m fortunate to have a career that celebrates and fosters my passion for the outdoors, allows me to utilize my education in communication, advertising, marketing, and public relations, and surrounds me with like-minded coworkers who share those same outdoor passions.
My job is by no means stress free, I’ll never get rich doing what I do, and I experience the same office dynamics that anyone in the private sector would, but I’m still lucky.
The majority of my days are spent in front of a computer screen, but every so often, I get to trade my desk in for an open field, a trail, a lake, or a blind, and get to experience and document the wildlife, activities, and places I work so hard to promote. If I had chosen another path, I may never have been able to witness the elaborate courtship display of a bright, blue-billed ruddy duck, or known what it’s like to capture, tag, and release a wild Canada goose, or receive a letter from a stranger states away saying how much his young daughter enjoys reading my articles. It’s on these days I am especially grateful to call Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine “home.”
Is there passion in your paycheck?