by Tony Elliott, Missouri Department of Conservation

MDC welcomes the new state ornithologist, Kristen Heath-Acre. Kristen has worked in a variety of ecological settings from Panama to the Texas plains, demonstrating a passion for learning and developing new skills. She is currently employed by the University of Missouri – Columbia as an MDC and Mark Twain National Forest collaborator in a lead role with the brown-headed nuthatch reintroduction and subsequent monitoring. Her scientific research, communication, and collaboration skills have been developed through her current job involving extensive communication with a broad range of Forest Service, University, and Department staff to coordinate the brown-headed nuthatch reintroduction and monitoring and other woodland songbird monitoring, in addition to her graduate project, work at a wildlife rehabilitation center, and a variety of field positions. Kristen received her Masters of Science in Wildlife, Aquatic, and Wildlands Science and Management from the Texas Tech University. Her research focused on population connectivity and trends of the federal and state listed, snowy plover. This research involved work with MOTUS receivers; capture, handling, and tagging of a federally and state listed species; integration of new data with a large historical dataset; collaboration with multiple state and federal agency partners; and use of Integrated Population Modeling in a Bayesian framework. Kristen has a strong work ethic and a desire to get work done correctly and is enthusiastic about further developing her research skills and leading Missouri’s bird conservation program. Her variety of experience, passion for learning, communication and collaboration skills, and statistical skills will make her an important addition to the MDC team and Missouri’s bird conservation efforts. In her free time Kristen enjoys reading and outdoor activities like birding, hiking, hunting, camping, and floating rivers with her husband, Matthew and their 2 dogs. Kristen began work on January 17th.