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Kari Eneas' education in wildlife doesn't stop

By Adriana Fehrs

Kari Eneas stands outside of her workplace. A recent graduate from the University of Montana, she now works for the Wildlife Management Program in Polson. (Adriana Fehrs photo)Kari Eneas stands outside of her workplace. A recent graduate from the University of Montana, she now works for the Wildlife Management Program in Polson. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

POLSON — Kari Eneas, a recent graduate from the University of Montana, has returned to her hometown to help the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes with their wildlife management program.

The twenty-three year old Eneas grew up in Polson, and attended school at the Polson High School. She kept herself busy by participating in several programs: volleyball, choir, band, and Board of Governors – a student class government group that would organize fund raisers. Eneas kept a busy schedule, but managed to graduate early.

After Eneas obtained her high school diploma she immediately went to work for the CSKT Wildlife Management Program as a biologist trainee, for about a year.

Eneas then went on to continue her education, while working seasonally for the Wildlife Management Program. She attended the Salish Kootenai College, but after one year she transferred the University of Montana in Missoula. As a student, she was an active member of the Wildlife Society Group of the Missoula community – going on funded trips to National conferences in Snowbird, Utah and Portland, Oregon, where she was able to meet council members of the Wildlife Society Group and network with potential employers.

In her last year at UM she completed an Independent Study program. For her yearlong study she worked with the Owl Research Institute of Ninepipes, writing protocol for barn owl nesting site surveys and doing dietary analysis between barn owls and short-eared owls. Eneas says the independent study helped her to connect with professors at the UM that she hadn’t met before.

Eneas says that she is grateful to the Native People’s Working Group for funding her trips to the national Wildlife Society conferences, and the Higher Education Department at CSKT. “Because of the Higher Education scholarships, I was able to graduate debt free.” Her mother also played a large role in her decision to continue her education, saying “ My mom was very supportive about her decision to go to college, and I wanted to make her proud.”

Kari Eneas sits in her office. She obtained a Wildlife Biology degree from the University of Montana, and now works for the Wildlife Management Program in Polson. (Adriana Fehrs)Kari Eneas sits in her office. She obtained a Wildlife Biology degree from the University of Montana, and now works for the Wildlife Management Program in Polson. (Adriana Fehrs)

Eneas chose to get a degree in wildlife biology because she grew up with a large fascination for wildlife. She says she spent most of her childhood outdoors, “I’ve always loved the outdoors and wildlife,” and “the older I became, and the more I researched wildlife. I wanted to be able to protect and manage it for future generations.” Eneas says, “I’ve always known what I’ve wanted to do [as a career]. In the eighth grade, the class had to do a research project on what career they would want, and I chose to research wildlife biology – It’s kind of cool to look back on that.” Now, she still spends her time outdoors: snowshoeing, hiking, ice fishing, and paddle boarding.

After finishing school in December 2013, she returned back to Polson to work full time as a wildlife biology trainee for the Wildlife Management Program. Her role there includes assisting the wildlife biologist with data collection and entry, and is helping with the Wild About Reading program at the K. William Harvey Elementary School in Ronan. Dale Becker, the head of the Wildlife Management Program says, “ Kari has been with us for about three years and has been a wonderful employee; she is diligent about her work and is a team player.”

Eneas also has plans to continue her education. Currently she is enrolled in Climate Academy - an online course, and is studying for her Graduate Record Examination (GRE), a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for a majority of grad schools- that she plans on taking this April. Eneas wants to return to the UM to obtain a Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology.

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