Angel has worked for the museum for the past 14 years, starting in 2005 as an educator and most recently as Assistant Director. She brings a wealth of expertise in conservation, education, and leadership to the museum.
Her enthusiasm is contagious and her energy and passion for her work, the museum, and the teams she leads is invaluable.
Get to know Angel in the interview below.
WHAT’S YOUR WORKDAY LIKE?
My day begins with looking over the schedule to see what the day and work week will bring, and generally includes meetings, meetings, and more meetings, LOL!
My work may involve anything from coordinating staff schedules, looking for a new traveling exhibit, evaluating budgets, staff appreciation, interacting with museum visitors, assessing revenue, and implementing strategies to improve the visitor’s experience.
ANY FUNNY WORK STORIES?
One day a snake slithered under the front door and into the museum. It made its way under the security desk and the security officer was sitting there. Needless to say, the staff was surprised and in disarray trying to let her know about the snake at her feet. Later – when we observed the security video to see how the snake entered the museum – I couldn’t stop laughing at the chaos the snake caused. Priceless!
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND & EDUCATION
My wonderful husband, Adam Rohnke, is a Senior Extension Associate in Wildlife for Mississippi State University. We have a 4 year-old son named Oren who loves the museum and the outdoors.
I grew up in Upstate, New York. In 2001, I received my A.A.S. in Natural Resources Conservation at Finger Lakes Community College. During my time at Finger Lakes, I worked for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in the Bureau of Fisheries. As a seasonal fish and wildlife technician, I conducted creel census and bass surveys on Honeoye and Conesus Lake. I also worked under the DEC as a camp counselorfor two summers, teaching lessons in field, forest, water, and environmental issues.
I went on to pursue a B.S. in Environmental Forest Biology and a Master’s of Professional Studies in Environmental Interpretation from the State University of New York-College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I worked there as an aide for the Willow Biomass Project, conducting data entry, fieldwork, light interception and photosynthesis tests, and other willow-related research. I was also the business manager for the Cranberry Lake Biological Station.
During college, I also worked for the New York State Salmon River Hatchery as an environmental educator, conducting non-law enforcement patrol and site monitoring of the Salmon River corridor. I then went on to work for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Women’s Rights National Historical Park as an interpreter. In this position, I led daily tours of historical sites and assisted in the visitor center.
I started my career with MDWFP’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in October 2005. Initially, I worked as an educator, developing lesson plans and conducting hands-on programs in many different subject areas of conservation education.
In 2008, I became the Education Coordinator, coordinating and directing all phases of statewide conservation education programs and projects, including proposal, planning, design, implementation, coordination, evaluation, and reporting.
In 2012, I was promoted to Assistant Director of the museum – planning, organizing, and administering aquariums, exhibits, and educational programs. This position provides administrative, technical, and program-specific leadership to the museum staff and volunteers.
I have served on several committees at the local, state, and national level and I’m proud to have received several awards, including:
- 2010: Mississippi Science Teachers Association Outstanding Informal Educator Award
- 2012: Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator of the Year Award
- 2014: Jekyll Island Management Institute (selected to attend)
- 2015: National Project WILD – Rudolph J. H. Schafer Outstanding Coordinator Award – nominees for this award are considered on the basis of extraordinary efforts in communications, leadership, initiative, innovation, and longevity in the advancement of environmental education through Project WILD!
- 2015: Finger Lakes Alumni Association Outstanding Conservation Alumni Achievement Award – this award was given in recognition of talent for cultivating an appreciation for the outdoors in K-12 students and leadership in environmental education on a local, state, and national level and for commitment to conservation
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS CAREER?
I’ve had a love for the outdoors from a very young age. I enjoyed fishing with my grandfather and father. On any given day, I was outside exploring with my sister and friends from sunrise to sunset. Conservation and Education is my passion, and that is what led me to my career at MDWFP’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
HOW DOES YOUR JOB CONTRIBUTE TO CONSERVATION?
Everything we do at the museum contributes to conservation! We promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Mississippi’s biological diversity through collections, research, scientific databases, education, and exhibits.
ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT INTERESTED IN A BIOLOGY OR MUSEUM CAREER?
Follow your passion! Connect & volunteer with an organization that aligns with your interests. Work hard, stay dedicated to your studies, and enjoy what you do!