The 8th meeting of the Wild Women of Reclamation (WWR) was held in conjunction with the 39th Annual American Society for Reclamation Sciences (ASRS) meeting in Duluth, MN, on June 14, 2022. The name change from ASMR to ASRS primarily occurred to provide more transparency to the many sectors that benefit from reclamation science and to encourage all of those engaged in the broad field of reclamation to participate. This has also been the goal of WWR and we anticipated that the name change to ASRS would also increase our networking umbrella to include more sectors doing the important work of reclamation. At our WWR gathering, women in all stages of their careers gathered to have breakfast, enjoy presentations by Dr. Abbey Wick and Marsha Patelke, create networking and mentoring opportunities, discuss experiences, and most importantly, share some laughs (which were needed after our 2-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic). We thank everyone who participated, brought a friend, or encouraged attendance.
The goal of the gathering is comradery and to discuss common experiences, unique as women, in the pursuit of improving reclamation. This affiliation is another tool we can use to empower women to have confidence in our abilities to advance our careers in reclamation science, mentor the future generation of professionals, and to improve the lives of everyone through our interactions.
This year’s speakers were selected from two different career pathways and demonstrated some of the depth and breadth of our backgrounds. Dr. Abbey Wick, with the North Dakota State University Extension, is a Soil Health Specialist and Associate Professor, and Marsha Patelke, is a recently retired Geologist from the Natural Resource Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth. We appreciate Abbey and Marsha’s willingness to share their experiences and journeys on how they came into the field of reclamation and how the relationships with ASRS have helped shape their careers. If you missed breakfast, I hope these summaries will provide a glimpse of their stories.
Dr. Abbey Wick Summary
Abbey provided a fun photo array of not only her career pathway, but she gave us important insight into some of life’s challenging questions. Through the lens of her son Wiley’s astute questions, but also “kids say the darndest things,” Abbey provided a view of her educational experiences as well as her career in soil health and her work with the agricultural sector and farmers. From teaching about sustainable farming methods on over 75,000 acres of soil and influencing management on over 300,000 acres of farmland to the more subtle aspects of her career, she impressed us with her devotion to her field, her family and her own life lessons. From her advocacy for continuous learning, appreciating who and what we are, finding the parts of your career that help you re-focus and relax, her life vision provided positive advice for all.
Marsha Patelke Summary
Marsha is a recently, 2020, retired Geologist who provided insight into the sometimes volatile market for geologists and how to cope, adjust and move forward when changes to what we perceive as our career, allow us to grow and move in alternate directions. For those that remember the oil and iron mining declines of the 1980s, they know the resurgence for many geologists appeared in the environmental field, and Marsha was no exception. Marsha with a strong background in both library science and geology, entered the environmental consulting field in Duluth and later joined the NRRI at UMD where she worked on a number of fascinating projects. Among many efforts, her favorite project was documenting and identifying the historical use of the Duluth Superior Harbor. Describing movement within our careers as either ladders or streams, she found her path was more of a meandering stream, due to her movement between the consulting industry and university research yet continuing interesting and important projects that allowed her career to continue to flow forward.
Wild Women of Reclamation was initiated by Dr. Brenda Schladweiler in 2013 as a tool to provide mentorship and professional support for women in reclamation. WWR is open to any woman in the field of reclamation, whether practitioner, academic, consultant, government employee or service provider in the natural resources industry or other. There are no forms and no formalities to join. We thank our past co-chairs Michele Coleman (who is the current ASRS President!) and Cindy Adams. If you are interested in becoming a co-chair, please contact Michele Coleman or Gwen Geidel (Geidel@sc.edu) and we would love to have you involved! If you have suggestions for improving networking or communications, please don’t hesitate to contact me! And we would love to restart our bi-annual newsletter but need to hear topic suggestions from you. Looking forward to our next gathering in Boise, ID in June 2023!