Meet the new refuge manager

The Friends of MNWR welcomes Ken Sturm as the new refuge manager! Ken comes to us from Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (CVNWR) in West Virginia, though in many ways he says he feels as if he’s coming home.

Ken studied wildlife fisheries and biology at UVM, and he even did his senior project at the Missisquoi refuge. After college he worked for three seasons for the Green Mountain Club, which maintains Vermont’s Long Trail, and for the Student Conservation Association. Through the SCA he worked as a volunteer at the Salton Sea NWR in southern California, where he was eventually hired as a biotech and stayed for 6 years.

In 1999 Ken transferred to Canaan Valley in West Virginia, where he says the wetlands and conifers reminded him of Vermont and he knew he would like it. CVNWR was only five years old at the time and 1400 acres. During his 12 years as supervisory wildlife biologist, the refuge grew to more than 16,000 acres. Ken was directly involved in evaluation of land for acquisition and its integration into the refuge, working to restore habitat and water resources. He worked closely with the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (a coalition of federal, state, private, and non-profit organizations) to restore historic red spruce ecosystems typical of Appalachia, including organizing many volunteer planting events at the refuge. He also was acting refuge manager at CVNWR from time to time, including the last 8 months.

Although moving is always difficult, applying for and accepting the manager’s position at Missisquoi was pretty much of a no-brainer for Ken, considering his Vermont roots. He comes here with his wife Angie, whom he met when he worked in southern California, and his 10-month-old son, Finn. He is in the process of reacquainting himself with the refuge and learning about its needs and priorities. He says he wants to get UVM students involved in the refuge, as he was years ago. And he is looking forward to meeting and working with the Friends of MNWR.

So if you haven’t met Ken yet, stop into the refuge headquarters to say hello and welcome him “back” to the refuge and Vermont!

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