MDWFP’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Jerrolds
Conservation Biologist / Educator
Jennifer truly lives her calling everyday.
Get to know her and how she impacts
Mississippi students in the interview below.
HOW LONG HAVE YOUR WORKED AT THE MUSEUM?
Six years next month! I started as a museum volunteer mostly assisting education staff. I was blessed to be offered a position within the next year.
WHAT’S YOUR WORKDAY LIKE?
My day begins with feeding, cleaning and checking in on our education program animals.
Every day is not the same for a museum educator and I really love that I get to do such a variety of tasks.
I may have a day filled with teaching programs about species native to Mississippi at the museum, assisting in one of MDWFP’s youth hunts or fishing rodeos, local outreach programs, working in the field with one of our biologists, leading summer campers, dressing up for a special event or meeting exotic species.
ANY FUNNY WORK STORIES?
Hands down, the conversations we have at work!! They are so normal to us yet humorous, but to an outsider would seem quite odd or perhaps disgusting.
Our volunteer coordinator has started a list for us to go back and read over when we need a good laugh!
- Heather: “Can we drop dry ice in the swamp again? Are you sure?”
- James: “Nah, it’s fine … it didn’t freeze any fish or gators last year.”
- Rachel: “I can put pterodactyls on the ceiling for you.”
- Heather: “Okay, there should be five, in a flock, kind of in a v-formation. Like geese.”
- Nicole H: “I need to send a snake overnight Fed Ex and I don’t know how.”
- Jennifer: “Is it alive or dead?”
- Nicole H: “Well, it’s dead now. I euthanized it. I think it had a fungal disease.”
- Jennifer (excited): “Do you have pictures??? I want to see!!!!”
We also dress up pretty crazy too sometimes to entertain our guests! I have been a skunk, an owl and Medusa! Oh, and I was a dinosaur that hatched from a huge handmade dinosaur egg!
WOULD YOU SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
I was always drawn to nature and wild animals. Everything I remember about my childhood included me wandering around through the woods or sandbars along the Mississippi River or my grandparents’ property.
I was always intrigued by the wildlife and found a sense of happiness and contentment in the woods.
My first pets were tadpoles and a Hognose snake – so surely that was some sort of indication of what direction my career path would take!
I knew when I went to college I should major in some sort of science. I graduated from Delta State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I worked as a Biological Student trainee for the USDA during college before taking a position with them after graduation.
I still enjoy just going for a “wander” in the woods. I still look for critters and run nets through water to see what I can find.
My inner child comes out when I am in the woods. Today I get to share those experiences with my daughter. I enjoy hunting, fishing and riding horses, but it is always enjoyed much more when I share those experiences with a child.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS CAREER?
Honestly, I feel like it’s just in my blood!
I was raised in a family that spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Some of them went on to be Game Wardens and some Biologists.
My sisters did not inherit this “nature gene” as I like to call it.
It was not forced on me though, I just picked up on it and it carried with me on into adulthood.
I feel like when we enjoy something as children and that passion never fades, then we have truly found what we were destined for.
HOW DOES YOUR JOB CONTRIBUTE TO CONSERVATION?
Nothing excites me more than spreading passion about everything that nature has to offer with another child!
Our mission at the museum is to, “promote an understanding and appreciation for Mississippi’s natural resources” and I do that through teaching children about nature and getting involved in youth hunts and fishing rodeos.
They are much more likely to respect and protect it, if they understand it.
Some children may not ever have the opportunity to experience nature and wildlife the way they can at one of our events or camps.
It is my hope that we spark an interest that contributes to them supporting conservation efforts not only as children, but as adults as well.
ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT INTERESTED IN A BIOLOGY OR MUSEUM CAREER?
Intern or volunteer!!
Since I started as a volunteer myself, I try to take time to support them, let them be involved with my tasks and encourage their interests.
Both help provide a better understanding of what a particular job involves in day to day work.
You also make valuable relationships with people that may be able to offer guidance and support for your career path.