Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Taranaki based biodiversity ranger, Kelly Eaton
What kind of things do you do in your role?
Well I do a range of field work and office tasks. I am mainly in the field doing things such as maintaining and checking the stoat trap network on Mt Taranaki; whio and Dactylanthus taylorii surveys; coastal herb field weeding to improve the habitat for rare plant species and the endangered Notoreas ‘Taranaki’ moth; along with a range of other threatened flora and fauna work—while also attempting to get volunteers involved to help me get these jobs done.
What is the best part about your job?
Seeing positive results and finding what I’m looking for, such as a whio and Dactylanthus.
What is the hardest part about your job?
The struggle to get everything done; I want to do everything I can but there just isn’t enough time to do it all.
What led you to your role in DOC?
Ever since I could carry a pack my father has been dragging me into the bush, taking my brother and I hunting in various spots throughout New Zealand. So somehow, although I was rather against going bush as a kid, I managed to grow up with a passion for our native wildlife.
Originally my goal was to become a zookeeper, which inspired me to obtain a degree in Zoology and a Certificate in Captive Wild Animals. After, I started to look for opportunities to gain that valuable experience. Along the way I met the right people who gave me that essential foot in the door. I gained a temporary job with the Historic Team in our National Office, which was followed by a year carrying out forest surveys with various organisations from Northland to Stewart Island, which finally lead me to my present dream job in Taranaki. Yay!
What was your highlight from the month just gone?
Getting into the rivers and tracking down whio to add to this season’s tally, and finding my first ducklings (totally cute!).
The rule of three…
- Sleep—it’s amazing.
- Food; those who know me will know that it is a rare moment to not find me snacking on something.
- Massages, especially after a massive field day.
Three pet peeves:
- Waiting in line. If there is a big line I am just going to go somewhere else, life is too short.
- Trying to find something trendy to wear when I don’t have to wear a uniform.
- Meat and three veg.
Three favourite places in New Zealand:
- Tongariro National Park.
- Mt Taranaki is fairly up there.
- Anywhere with sunshine, golden sands and a bottle of wine.
Favourite movie, album, book:
Movies: Kill Bill 1 and 2, and anything Peter Jackson does.
Album: Nothing comes to mind, I like a range of things. For Today by Headband may be my favourite song. Just don’t give me any of that angry screaming rubbish.
Book: Edmonds Cookery Book… well it’s the one I use the most.
Deep and meaningful…
What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?
‘Go out there and volunteer, gain experience and make connections. It will make obtaining the job you want a bit easier’. I pass this onto many of the potential future rangers I meet.
Who or what inspires you and why?
Steve Irwin was fairly cool—that bubbly positive personality, out there, doing what he could with a passion. He taught so many people about conservation values. And Captain Planet… he’s a hero…. Are you singing the theme song in your head now?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Very briefly I thought I would be an artist, but after a few school trips to the zoo, becoming a zookeeper became my focus. I knew I wanted to work with animals.
And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?
A house wife/gardener/popping out a few kiddies or saving endangered wildlife in Africa… oh the options!
What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?
Compost your biodegradable kitchen waste; it’s amazing how well the garden will grow with a bit of homemade compost.
Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?
At home: car pool and ride my bike more. At work: hassle people about the ‘Check Clean Dry’ message more.
If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?
I think a New Zealand fur seal would be quite cool, flying through the water and discovering a whole new world.
What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?
Bored? Looking for something new to do? Interested in conservation? Your local DOC office could probably use your assistance with a project or two. Give them a call and let’s get some work done!