Sarah Lessard ’17
Sarah is originally from a small town (Franklinton) in Louisiana. She received a B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology and Management from Louisiana State University in May 2015. As a senior earning her undergraduate degree, she worked for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. After graduation, she started graduate school at Auburn University in August 2015. Sarah received her M.S. degree in Natural Resources in August 2017. Her thesis title was, “The Human Dimensions of Whooping Crane Conservation in Alabama.”
About Sarah’s present career:
I am currently a public relations specialist for the Habitat and Species Conservation Section of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). I also lead communication activities for the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC). I am responsible for creating outreach materials for both the FWC and PFLCC. I serve as a liaison between FWC and PFLCC staff, stakeholders, and partner agencies. I plan and participate in multi-agency meetings, workshops, and events and develop communications platforms for agency projects. One of my primary duties is to clarify and provide details on technical and complex fish and wildlife issues to the media and the public.
Alumna Spotlight with Sarah
What do you contribute to your success as a woman in a natural resources-based field?
So many things! All of my professors, supervisors, and mentors who encouraged me to follow my dreams and constantly reminded me of my potential, and my peers and classmates who helped me along the way.
My major professor, Dr. Wayde Morse, has been a huge component of my success. He showed me the importance of networking and sharing my graduate research with others. It was through my research and meeting other professionals in my field that I discovered what I wanted to do with my career.
My persistence and determination have also been integral to my success. I worked diligently in both undergrad and graduate school to achieve my goals. My passion for conservation really drove me to thrive and excel in this field.
What area of your field/industry do you see the most growth potential for women?
I think all three fields (i.e. wildlife, forestry, and natural resources) as a whole have high growth potential for women. These fields were historically male-dominated, but seeing how many women have been successful in these fields is really inspiring. I hope they continue to diversify.
In what ways/means do you feel the school could best support its female graduates and students?
A suggestion would be to organize seminars or brown bag lunches where women, especially alumni, could give presentations to highlight their successes (and the adversities they faced) in our fields. Graduate Women in Science, which is university-wide, is a great organization, so partnering with them on events may be beneficial.
What advice would you give a new female graduate?
There are so many possible career paths in natural resources! Do not get discouraged if you don’t immediately land your dream job. Connections are super important, so be sure to keep in touch with your peers and mentors. Be open to new possibilities!