DNRC hires invasive species outreach specialist

A Carroll College graduate with a decade of high-level experience joined Montana’s fight to keep nonnative species from degrading the state’s lands and waters.

Kate Wilson, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carroll College and a Master’s of Science at the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, was hired as Invasive Species Outreach Coordinator for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

“We are thrilled that Kate has decided to return to Montana and apply her passion and expertise to our program,” said Stephanie Hester, DNRC’s Invasive Species Program manager. “In Alberta, Canada, she built the province’s aquatic invasive species program from the ground up. As director of the Pend Oreille Basin Commission in Idaho, she participated in the development of some of the first watercraft inspection stations in the West. She has an incredible skill set.”

Following the discovery of invasive mussels in two Montana waterways last year, Hester said DNRC has worked to strengthen invasive species management at the local, state and regional levels. The department’s program now includes administration of an aquatic invasive species grant program, coordination of the Montana Invasive Species Council, and establishment of the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission, an effort focused on coordination with state and regional partners for early detection and preparedness of aquatic invasive species in the Columbia River Basin – the last mussel-free watershed in the lower 48 states.

“It’s imperative we improve management of the invasive species already here in Montana, as well as preparing for new threats,” Hester said. “Prevention is the best strategy to combat invasive species, and Kate will play a key role in working with partners and the public to build awareness of invasive species and how to prevent them.”

Wilson’s Master’s thesis involved assessing the awareness, attitudes, and actions of resident and nonresident boaters and anglers in Florida toward aquatic invasive species. Her work resulted in recommendations to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for improving education and prevention measures.

“I’m passionate about conserving Montana’s irreplaceable natural resources and excited to apply my expertise to the prevention and management of all invasive species that threaten our state,” Wilson said.

Wilson will start her new position with DNRC in September 2017.



What is your favorite part of the Fair?