Michael McVay

Michael McVay
Michael McVay
Track: Fisheries Conservation and Management (FMC)
Graduated: May 2020
What is your current job and main responsibilities?

I am a biologist with Ducks Unlimited working primarily with habitat restoration in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. I work with private landowners to enhance, restore, and maintain quality wetland habitat. My main duties include reforestation, hydrology restoration, moist soil management, provide landowners with technical assistance, and public education. Most of these job duties are coordinated with state agencies, United States Department of Agriculture, other non-profit organizations, and private individuals.

Tell us about your MPS internship

My internship was hosted by my current position with Ducks Unlimited. I had the unique opportunity to start a full-time, salaried position with Ducks Unlimited while performing internship responsibilities. My internship included developing a study to examine water quality benefits from the Wetland Reserve Easement program administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. I worked with private landowners in Louisiana to study water quality on properties enrolled in the WRE program imbedded in rich agriculture landscapes. The position and study helped me understand the importance of my job, excelled my knowledge in habitat restoration, and provided an opportunity to demonstrate the skills I learned during my time at RSMAS and UM.

What were your favorite classes at RSMAS and why?

One of my favorite courses was shark biology and ecology. I always found sharks fascinating and wanted to learn more about them. During the course, the class had the opportunity to participate in a shark tagging expedition. I was able to see and interact with some amazing shark species including my favorite, a great hammerhead shark.

Another course I really enjoyed was socioeconomics and management. It took a wholistic approach to management implications and how those decisions affect the local economy, global economy, populations of species, and the public’s opinion. The course helped demonstrate that every management decision in environmental and wildlife fields affects more than we realize.

What are your favorite RSMAS memories?

My favorite RSMAS memory includes the times spent at The Wetlab. Graduate studies can be extremely exhausting at times. But, The Wetlab is where professional relationships and true friendships are made. The combination of the beach, cold beverages, and great food created a relaxing environment for both student, staff, and the public to enjoy.

What piece of advice would you give to current or incoming MPS students?

The best advice I could give to anyone coming into a program at RSMAS is to enjoy your time there. There were times where I felt like I was rushing to develop a career and finish my degree. I wish I would have had a better appreciation for the experiences that took place, the people I got to meet, and the education I received. Slow down and always find joy in the opportunity that you are presented with.