Person with glasses and braided hair, wearing an orange shirt and backpack, standing outdoors surrounded by green foliage and yellow wildflowers.

Alex B.

POSITION: Natural Areas Production Coordinator

TIME AT MARIANI: 1.5 years

DESCRIBE YOUR JOB: I lead the Natural Areas program, which is responsible for ecological restoration work and native plant gardens.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB HERE: Natural Areas Site Supervisor

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB: I love seeing the immediate positive impacts of adding natives to a backyard, like hearing birdsong in the trees, seeing fireflies after dark, watching bumblebees bounce on the flowers, or smelling the bergamot and grasses. The prairie restorations especially have such an electric hum to them, it’s nostalgic and exciting at the same time.

THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING A WOMAN IN THIS INDUSTRY? I’ve worked in many areas of this industry and am no stranger to being the only woman around but have found restoration work specifically to be very inclusive. Diversity is one of the most important tenets of ecology, so it only makes sense that this value is reflected in its practitioners. I would advise women pursuing this field to value themselves and their work and seek out employers who do the same.

FAVORITE THING(S) TO DO AWAY FROM MY JOB: Outside of my job, I am passionate about my non-profit work relating to growing vegetables in underserved areas of Chicago and adding native plants to public places around the city. I also enjoy various arts and crafts, swimming, and hiking.

CRAZY/FUNNY/GREAT THING THAT HAPPENED HERE, MEMORY, ETC: Recently, I watched a flock of wild turkeys investigate a work site in Wisconsin where we’ve been removing invasive shrubs from all winter. It was so choked with buckthorn, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose before that nothing could walk through it, now it’s open and sunny. Seeing the turkeys cautiously step into this new area and then start pecking at the ground for food was very sweet.

FINAL THOUGHT: Plant natives, wear sunscreen, and roast a marshmallow!