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Photo Credit: Amy Jansen

Welcoming Josh Vest, Our New Science Coordinator

Josh began working as the Science Coordinator for the PPJV in January this year. While Josh may be new to the PPJV partnership, he has extensive experience working with Joint Ventures. Prior to joining the PPJV, Josh served as the Science Coordinator for the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) for 10 years. While there, much of his work was focused on conservation planning as well as technical transfer of science and JV objectives to conservation programs, particularly with NRCS. Josh is originally from Mississippi, where he grew up working on his family’s cattle and soybean farm and enjoyed fishing and pursuing waterfowl and upland birds. He went on to earn his BS and MS degrees in Wildlife Science from Mississippi State University with an emphasis on waterfowl and wetland ecology and management. He obtained his PhD in Wildlife Biology from Utah State University, where he studied overwinter ecology of waterfowl on the Great Salt Lake.

When asked about his transition to the PPJV, Josh replied: “I am truly excited for this opportunity with the PPJV and to be working in the PPR. I was fortunate to spend a couple of summers in the late 1990s working for Delta Waterfowl as a technician on a number of breeding ecology studies in North Dakota and Manitoba. That was a remarkable experience as a young professional and I fell in love with the prairie landscapes then. Prior to that opportunity, I remember as a kid reading my dad’s Ducks Unlimited magazines thinking of the Prairie Potholes – the Duck Factory – as this mystical, other-worldly place. Turns out I wasn’t wrong, it is truly one of the wonders of North America for those of us interested in avian ecology, rural communities, and working landscapes. I left that first summer with a spiritual connection to the prairies. So this is a tremendous opportunity to come work for and be a part of the PPJV partnership. The PPJV has a remarkably strong science foundation and long history of effective partnerships turning that science into conservation action. Given my agriculture background I am particularly keen and excited about the PPJV’s engagement and facilitation in working lands conservation. I know I have some big shoes to fill as Science Coordinator but we have an impressive and engaged Technical Committee and science partnerships here in the PPJV so I am excited for the challenge ahead!”

Josh relocated to Great Falls, MT in March with his wife Brandi and their “fur family”. Josh joined the PPJV staff at the Benton Lake NWR office just a few short weeks before the COVID-19 telework response was initiated. Despite this impeccable timing, our new virtual meeting reality has allowed him to engage many of you already. Josh can be reached at 406-552-3657 or by email at josh_vest@fws.gov.