People of Reclamation: meet Jolene Trujillo, Integrated Pest Management/Invasive Species Coordinator
Written by: Emily Quinn
Jolene Trujillo, Integrated Pest Management/Invasive Species CoordinatorReclamation employs a diverse group of exceptional people. Jolene Trujillo is one of those employees. Throughout Jolene’s two years of service as Reclamation’s Integrated Pest Management/Invasive Species Coordinator, her efforts to reduce the spread of invasive species; specifically of invasive mussels throughout the western United States, have paid off.
Jolene attended the University of New Mexico where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She then went on to pursue and receive her Master of Science degree in Biology from Arizona State University.
Jolene began her federal career with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs in Washington, D.C. She and her husband always had their hearts set on moving back out west. When Jolene landed a position in the EPA’s Region 8 office in Denver, they set out on their journey to Colorado, and it wasn’t long before Jolene spotted an opportunity to join the Reclamation team as the IPM/Invasive Species Coordinator.
One of Jolene’s projects includes the facilitation and support of the Department of the Interior’s “Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species” initiative which strives to improve monitoring and the prevention of invasive mussels in the Pacific Northwest.
Support for invasive mussels prevention and research has gradually increased over the past couple of years as information about their impacts has been collected and shared. Jolene says, “Once established, zebra and quagga mussels can clog water intake and delivery pipes, infest hydropower infrastructure, adhere to boats and pilings, foul recreational beaches, and cause many other costly problems. The ecological impact of mussels has resulted in competition with native mussels, disruption of food webs, and bioaccumulation of toxins.”
As support for mussel prevention initiatives has grown, it has enabled Jolene to provide Reclamation with improved resources and information sharing opportunities which have strengthened Reclamation’s ability to reduce the spread of invasive mussel species throughout our projects and facilities. “I’m excited to be a part of this increased enthusiasm and the collaborative efforts of partnering agencies to reduce the spread of invasive mussels,” she says.
Jolene is working alongside Reclamation’s two primary coordinating bodies within the IPM program which include the Corporate Mussels Task Force and the Integrated Pest Management coordinators group. “It has been very rewarding to work with these groups to understand the invasive species and IPM challenges they face, and how to address those issues through information sharing and coordination,” says Jolene.
Jolene’s work is challenging, exciting and rewarding. “No two days are alike. One day I might be managing congressional inquiries, and the next day may involve something completely different like reviewing integrated pest management plans,” she explains.
Jolene hopes to continue highlighting the expansive body of work being done by Reclamation throughout the various DOI forums to prevent the spread of invasive species. Jolene’s priority topics for information sharing include water sampling and analysis for mussel detection, vulnerability assessments, watercraft inspection and decontamination, outreach and education, and research and implementation of control technologies.
“I also hope to continue supporting Reclamation’s regions with the successful implementation of their invasive mussel prevention activities and integrated pest management programs,” she adds.
Jolene appreciates the “can do” work ethic of her colleagues, and notices their consistent efforts to strive and support Reclamation’s mission of delivering water and power to the 17 western states. She says, “It’s great to work with individuals who want to see real world changes and who work very hard to make them happen. As someone who grew up understanding the value of water in the arid southwest, I’m happy to be a part of an organization that takes managing this precious resource seriously.”
Jolene’s place on the Reclamation team is an important one. She wants you to know that the IPM/Invasive Species Coordinator works in consultation and cooperation with numerous partners to reduce the impacts of invasive species on Reclamation projects and facilities. Reclamation’s ability to deliver water and power in a safe and reliable manner depends upon the control and prevention of invasive mussels.
“The implementation of integrated pest management techniques throughout Reclamation will ensure that our agency is able to continue conserving and delivering water effectively,” she explains.
For those interested in pursuing Jolene’s line of work, she suggests going beyond the sciences to also develop “soft skills.” She says, “It’s important to have a solid science background for understanding the technical aspects of this position, but it really comes down to the ability to communicate effectively and work with others to ensure that you’re reaching the goals of managing invasive species and implementing effective integrated pest management.”
Jolene also has some sound advice for women in the industry. “Play to your strengths. Listening, emotional aptitude and empathy are great qualities to demonstrate as a rising future leader,” explains Jolene.
She also recommends finding a quality mentor who will support your growth and success, and who will offer guidance along the way. She adds, “Start building relationships with your boss and other senior leaders from the beginning, and pay particular attention to cultivating relationships with those who believe in you and who are willing to publicly support you -- they are going to be your best advocates.”
Reclamation is proud to employ minority and female leaders. We encourage others to explore the unique and fulfilling career opportunities available at our facilities.
To learn about the work Reclamation is doing to prevent the spread of invasive mussels, visit: https://www.usbr.gov/mussels/.
Jolene Trujillo at her work station
Published on December 08, 2017