Director - National Wildlife Health Center
As a veterinarian, you really think about things in a very methodical manner, and you try to look at the big picture first. You don't try to go straight to where you think the problem is because you may miss something on the periphery. And it's very similar in looking at the environment. You know you look at the air, you look at the water, you look at the water quality and quantity, you see how they're all related and inter related.
I knew that I wanted to move into the public realm in veterinary medicine. And the Envirovet course gets you thinking creatively about the fact that you can take your career in veterinary medicine and design it in any direction, in any shape or form you want to take it. It really gives you the tools to find your way.
Envirovet was really the first chance as veterinarians we got to sit in a room with other veterinarians and veterinary scientists and talk philosophically. Talk about how disease affects wildlife, domestic animals and people. How everything's interconnected. It's not something you really discuss in veterinary school.
Here at the National Wildlife Health Center we may be working in a laboratory situation or a field situation and not always having our hands on live animals but the reason we do it is because we have a passion for wildlife health, a passion for populations of wildlife, not just the individual animal.
In the veterinary field pathologists and epidemiologists think very differently from wildlife biologists and wildlife ecologists. But they can't survive without one another. Otherwise they're studying disease or wildlife in a silo without the bigger picture. Each wildlife disease we study has a connection to the greater good and I think that's what makes studying wildlife disease so fascinating because you're really not just studying the disease and you're not just studying the animal, and you're not just studying the population, you're studying how the environment affects the disease and how the disease affects the environment.
Animals are the window into the health around us. You know, they're the perfect model for studying the environment. They're in their own little laboratory outdoors all the time and we need to pay attention to them because they're trying to tell us something.
I have a friend who works for the state government in California and she says You know, Les, there are some people that want it all and there are some people that have it all, meaning passion'. and she said You choose between material things and emotional things and if you fall into the latter category, maybe you're just not going to make as much money as the other guy but you're going to be a hell of lot happier.