Northern Michigan University graduate students Michael Woodworth and Amy Munes were recently selected as Presidential Management Fellows (PMF), a prestigious program that partners early-career professionals with U.S. Federal Agencies to make a difference in government and impact their communities. There were 850 fellows chosen from more than 10,000 applicants.
The PMF program was established 45 years ago to recruit government leaders chosen from advanced degree holders across all academic disciplines. This year's finalists represent 98 unique academic degree programs and 249 different academic institutions worldwide. Munes and Woodworth came from the NMU Biology Department's master's degree program in the area of natural resources and conservation.
"It's so exciting that both of these students have been selected,” said Jill Leonard, department head. “For them, it means a nearly guaranteed future working in the Federal Management Agencies and working to help ensure the management of our natural resources. Biology is excited to have such excellent students be selected for leadership in the government. We are so proud of them and look forward to following their future successes. I think it's wonderful also to see the recognition that NMU and the Biology Department can offer students such a great start and that it is being recognized nationally. And, of course, having two students selected in the same year is so special."
The graduate students will have a year to secure an appointment for a two-year, full-time, paid fellowship at a federal agency that includes training provided by the program. Fellow benefits include health insurance at government rates and paid holidays, among other advantages. After completing the program, 87% of fellows take a permanent or term position.
Woodworth has worked in Leonard's fish ecology lab since his sophomore year five years ago, and Leonard helped guide his educational path through his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He says the program is an opportunity to continue to learn and gain experience while having a full salary and benefits. It also provides specific interactive training and development assignments that will shape Woodworth into a future leader within the federal government.
“I am honored by this opportunity to become a Presidential Management Fellow,” said Woodworth. “I am beyond thankful for the staff at NMU, specifically my adviser Jill Leonard. While working in the lab, I have gained ample hands-on experience in fisheries-related fieldwork and quantitative data analysis. These educational experiences have helped propel me into the program.
“My career goal would be working with Great Lakes fisheries, specifically related to the conservation of cold-water native fish species and their habitats. From a very young age, I have been intrigued by the natural resources in the Great Lakes area, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure future generations can enjoy them as much as I do.”
Munes has wanted to work for the government since receiving her undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point in 2011. She worked as an avian field technician for a decade and received temporary federal jobs, but decided to pursue her master's at NMU to qualify for the positions she wanted. Munes has done research in an NMU lab directed by Professor Alec Lindsay.
“I am honored to become a PMF,” said Munes. “The master's degree alone will increase my chances of getting a permanent federal position, but the PMF opportunity will help me reach my career goals. After the training program is completed, I would eventually like to transfer to the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. I was an intern there back in 2012 and was very impressed with the research coming out of that office.
“It is really hard to say where my career will go. If I see any appointments that will train me to work directly with the U.S. president's administration to make environmental policy decisions, I will go for those, too. It is a bit early to say what will come of my PMF finalist opportunity, but whatever I do, I want to work toward making this country a better place for all walks of life.”
Munes has yet to choose an available position that fits her background, but hopes for an appointment with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) office in Madison, Wis., where she currently lives.
Media Contact: Jill Leonard, firstname.lastname@example.org.