Name: Alyssa Barrette
Title: Ecologist and Wetland Biologist
Division: Division of Transportation System Development (DTSD)
Walk us through your typical day at work.
My days often take me outdoors to make evaluations of natural resources, wildlife, vegetation and habitat. There also are a number of days in which I’m in the office working with other WisDOT staff on guidance and solutions to manage our responsibilities under various environmental regulations such as the Endangered Species Act. I’m also responsible for managing wetland mitigation sites, assisting with the wetland mitigation program, helping project teams work through complicated environmental issues, and coordinating with partner agencies such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
What’s something that tends to surprise people to learn about your job?
I actually like what I do! (Crazy, right?) On any given day, I could be helping project teams or program areas research the natural resources within a project area, protect endangered species or restore habitat. I’m also fortunate to have many unique opportunities at WisDOT, beyond my typical responsibilities, such as opportunities to be involved in department initiatives, leadership programs and numerous training opportunities.
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had while working at WisDOT?
I have lots of memories from out in the field when I started as an intern in the Northeast Region for WisDOT. Monitoring and managing wetland mitigation sites often means trudging through tall vegetation as mosquitos feast on you and water finds its way into your boots, soaking your socks. Other times, I can be downright amazed by how close I suddenly am to wildlife.
What’s an example of your job you see/use in your everyday life?
The importance of collaboration and partnerships. This is incredibly important at work, but equally as important in personal life. These relationships are the foundation of effective problem solving, both at work and at home. Think about your best friend, family member, or maybe a coworker, and how that person has helped you solve a problem, better understand an issue, or maybe just been a good listener.
Who has influenced you most in your career? Why?
There are many people I could name, but all of them had similar qualities: trustworthy, respected by peers, passionate, knowledgeable, positive and supportive, to name a few. The mentors I have found and worked with throughout my career have shared their insight and knowledge, collaborated on various issues, and challenged me, all of which has allowed me to grow professionally.
What words of advice do you have for young people starting their career?
- Find a mentor, or a few mentors. Find someone respected by their peers, someone you can trust, and someone that will challenge you to improve and grow.
- Realize that you are not going to know everything right away. You will learn through experience, research, reflection and the help of others.
- Work to create a positive reputation, which will help instill respect and trust from others in your abilities.
- Have fun and smile! A positive attitude can be contagious even in challenging situations.
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