MDC welcomes new natural history biologist

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) welcomes Bruce Henry as the new natural history biologist in the southeast regional office in Cape Girardeau. The duties of this position include coordinating efforts with regional staff to manage and restore natural communities, natural areas, and species of conservation concern throughout the region.

Matt Bowyer, the MDC’s wildlife regional supervisor for the southeast regional office, said Henry was selected due to his qualifications, motivation, and his passion for the outdoors. Henry has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from the University of Illinois and is finishing his master’s thesis in forestry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. 

“Bruce has strong interest, education and experience in natural area management, stewardship, and outreach and education,” Bowyer said. “We welcome him to our team.”

Over the past six years, Henry has worked in several positions giving him the background and skills needed for the natural history biologist position.  Starting in central Illinois, Henry worked as a natural area technician for the Urbana Park District, planning and implementing ecological restoration activities on natural areas.  He then spent three years working as an endangered species field biologist, burn crew member, and seasonal field botanist for The Nature Conservancy in Fort Hood, Texas.  He then worked for three years in southern Illinois for the Nature Conservancy as a restoration specialist on an invasive species strike team treating over 30 species of invasive plants. 

Henry’s master’s thesis is titled “Developing A Statewide Prescribed Fire Needs Assessment for Illinois” where he is analyzing five years of natural area prescribed burn data across multiple ownerships throughout Illinois.  As part of his graduate assistantship, he was lead instructor of a fire ecology course, a teacher’s assistant in two semesters of forest measurements, a collaborator on the revision of the Integrated Wildfire Management Plans for the Illinois Army National Guard’s training installations, and crew boss of the Fire Dawgs, Southern Illinois University’s prescribed fire crew. 

Recently, Henry was contracted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide support, training and orientation of the newly hired Southern Illinois Invasive Species Strike Team working in 12 counties of southern Illinois covering over 35 natural areas.  

He is certified as an Illinois prescribed burn manager, federal firefighter type 2, ATV operator, and Illinois pesticide applicator.