MRBO’s Newest staff member

The Missouri River Bird Observatory has hired Zeb Yoko in the new role of Conservation Science Communicator

Zeb’s introduction

As the newest staff member of MRBO I wanted to take the time to introduce myself. In my new role I will be a frequent contributor to the website and our seasonal newsletter, The Rectrix.  My official title is Conservation Science Communicator, so I will do my best to relay the scientific basis for what we do, and be a resource for any questions that visitors may have about ecology and conservation. You can find me at zebadiah.yoko@mrbo.org .

More about Zeb

My interest in wildlife and conservation began from frequent excursions into nature in the areas surrounding my hometown of Dubuque, Iowa. My favorite activities included frequent fishing and mushroom hunting excursions, and monthly camping through Boy Scouts, where a passion for conservation and service was instilled in me that I hold to this day. I earned the honor of becoming an Eagle scout, then graduated and went off to college to work towards my Bachelor’s degree.

I set off to study Biology at Truman State University, and picked up minors in Chemistry and Music.  I studied cello in college and to this day still perform with the Marshall Philharmonic. I got my first real exposure to studying wildlife during a winter interim course where I was able to study brown anoles that inhabited the tree islands of the Florida Everglades. I also started my first bird list (which if you are familiar with bird listing, wintering in Florida is a fantastic place to begin). Upon graduation from Truman, Dana and Ethan first hired me on as a survey technician starting the Monday after graduation. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity they gave me, and enjoyed the opportunity to explore the wild landscapes throughout the great state of Missouri.

Zeb in the field during his first stint with MRBO

After working for MRBO for two seasons I sought other opportunities to broaden my experience profile. I worked seasonally with the NRCS and the USFWS all the while being told in order to land a permanent position in the field I would need a Master’s Degree. An additional overarching theme in each role was the importance of habitat, which is mostly driven by the plants on the landscape. Seeing as I had a blind spot in plant biology, I pursued a Master’s project up in Fargo, ND focused on characteristics of a particularly beautiful prairie wildflower: Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum, unfortunately not found in Missouri). I successfully defended my thesis this fall, and graduated from North Dakota State University with a Master’s degree in Environmental and Conservation Science (I will have peer-reviewed journal articles coming out soon from this experience!).

With the combination of my education and experience, in addition to writing content and answering questions, I will also be working in the background on a few of MRBO’s other tasks. I will contribute to data analysis for several of the different projects MRBO has underway, particularly focusing on wetland and grassland bird conservation. I will still have the chance to spend some time away from the computer screens by also contributing to data collection in the field, and helping with education and outreach events. If you would like to contact me, send me an email at zebadiah.yoko@mrbo.org or find me on Twitter @zebadiahyoko.

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