Dr. Heidi Adams grew up by the Missouri River in the little town of Blair, Nebraska, where camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing were a big part of her childhood, “and I learned that I could truly be at ease when in nature,” she said.
She graduated from Blair Senior High in 1999 and went to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where she discovered the field of wildlife management and conservation.
“It was a wonderful fit for me, so I chose to major in Wildlife and Fisheries and worked on a minor in Animal Science,” said Dr. Adams, since 2014 an assistant professor in Louisiana Tech’s Agricultural Sciences and Forestry program.
She graduated from Nebraska in 2004 with a B.S. in Natural Resources and stayed at Nebraska to earn in 2006 her M.S. after she’d completed research evaluating avian foraging activity in crop fields adjacent to woodland edges. From there, she enrolled at Mississippi State University, studied grassland birds in agricultural systems, and earned her Ph.D. in 2011
Since, she’s seen notable changes in the field of wildlife management and conservation.
“The use of technology has become a much more common practice,” Adams said. “This is especially true in regard to spatial data collection and analyses. As geographic information systems (GIS) have evolved, they’ve allowed biologists and managers to be more efficient at studying wildlife and their associated habitats. GIS hardware and software allows us to better estimate home range and territory sizes, migratory patterns, and habitat selection tendencies. “
She’s also noticed an increasing interest in the field and a more accepted understanding that, because of so many options that the degree offers, studying wildlife does not automatically mean that a graduate will become a game warden, which of course remains an option; other career possibilities include wildlife biology, wildlife education, wildlife forensics, wildlife policy analysis, and wildlife economics.
“I really enjoy working at Louisiana Tech and feel right at home,” said Adams, whose favorite part of teaching is lab work with her students. “I get to take the students into the field so they can apply what they’ve learned during lectures. Labs I’ve organized for my students include banding waterfowl, conducting deer browse surveys, performing wildlife necropsies, and evaluating habitat suitability for various species. Wildlife management, after all, is an applied field, and what better way to learn than by putting knowledge into action.”
The forestry program’s additional emphasis on habitat is crucial, she said.
“As I tell my students,” Adams said, “animals need food, water, shelter, and space. Unless you know how to provide that, you are not going to have wildlife. In the Southeast where habitat usually means forests, students can learn how to effectively manage forests for wildlife and for people.
“I am so blessed to have a career that allows me to combine my passion for wildlife and my love for learning,” she said, “especially at Louisiana Tech, where I have the opportunity to meet and work with so many great faculty and students.”