Plains Center Welcomes New Executive Director
Plains Conservation Center (PCC) is excited to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Su as our new Executive Director. Jeff started in December and has quickly become familiar with our organization. We invite everyone to join us on Thurday, January 31 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at Plains Center for a reception to welcome and meet Jeff. (Heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks provided.)
Letter from Dr. Jeffrey Su to the Plains Center community:
I am extremely honored to have been selected as the next Executive Director for the Plains Conservation Center. I want to thank Tudi and all my predecessors for all their accomplishments, hard work and for their confidence in selecting me to carry things forward. I hope to get a chance to get to know each of you in more depth soon, but I thought I would take the chance to tell you a little bit more about myself personally.
I am originally from Amherst, Massachusetts. A college town a little bit like Boulder, CO but without the mountains. It was a wonderful place to grow up, and I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods and pond behind my house. I connected more formally to the natural world in high school where I was lucky enough to take a series of outdoor leadership classes similar to Outward Bound. I finished my senior year doing a 3 night, and 4 day wilderness solo where the only thing I could take with me was what I could fit in a coffee can. These experiences deeply transformed me, and I made the commitment then to focus my future learning and career in the environmental field.
Since then, I have been very fortunate and have had many diverse and rewarding opportunities. I started my career as a researcher and got to catch butterflies and bird watch in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, research the endangered Salvatori’s Teal in Papua New Guinea, and map high-alpine meadows in Eastern Tibet with the Nature Conservancy. I also, had to do less “sexy” things in the name of science like pick maggots out of rotting fruit for 2 years in Maui, and spend countless hours glued to a microscope to identify 18,000 insects for my Ph.D. research at the University of Maine.
I spent two years as an Assistant Professor at Southern Utah University, in Cedar City Utah just north of Zion National Park. While in Utah, I became increasingly frustrated with the ability of academia alone to affect people’s behaviors concerning environmental issues. Although I loved the teaching and the lifestyle I wanted do something that worked with projects on the ground more directly. For a number of reasons, including love, I decided to leave academia and move to Australia.
I spent 6 years in Australia working for an environmental education non-profit called the Gould League, sort of an equivalent to the Audubon Society here in the USA. I began as a Sessional Educator, then served as the education manager, and then spent four years as the Development Director/Assistant Director. My Executive Director at the Gould League was a wonderful mentor and I learned quite a lot about non-profit management, financial management and what it takes to make an organization successful.
In 2008, my job ended in Australia and I met my now wife while traveling in Germany. She is Austrian so I decided to move from Australia to Austria (I know it is a little confusing). After two years in Austria trying valiantly but failing to learn Austrian-German, I decided it was time to come home to the USA.
I have served as the Executive Director of the EcoPark, in La Crosse Wisconsin, since 2010 working to transform an old 1930’s era Zoo into a center for sustainability education and nature play. Of all the roles I have been lucky enough to perform within the environmental community, I truly believe in the power of Nature Centers to affect the hearts and minds of our communities and help to create a human society and lifestyle that is in balance with nature’s ability to sustain life.
Outside of work I enjoy mountain biking, telemark skiing, hiking, bird watching and pretty much anything outdoors. For indoor activities, I love live music, craft beer, local food and crafts and independent films and I’ve become quite a Packers fan (almost by necessity) while living in Wisconsin.
Thank you again for the opportunity and look forward to meeting you all soon.