Prescribed burn photo by Dulcey Lima, Unsplash. Photo of Jared while working at a prescribed burn is courtesy of Jared Trickey.

May 1, 2024

Meet the Staff: Jared Trickey, District Wildlife Biologist

Jared Trickey is a firm believer in the adage, ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Whether he is helping the public, through his new role as an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) District Wildlife Biologist (DWB), or helping to train individuals through his volunteer work with Pheasants Forever chapters of Illinois, Trickey believes that best practices in wildlife resource preservation involve teaching a little while helping.

This motto could be attributed to not only his own personal interests in wildlife resources, but also to the mentorship of others in his life. Growing up on a cattle farm, Trickey remembers spending a lot of time walking fences with his father, which allowed him to explore nearby grassland and forest habitats. On these walks he encountered wildlife, such as ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer, along with multitudes of plants and trees. Trickey also credits the mentorship of his high school earth science and Future Farmers of America advisor for encouraging him to explore agriculture and natural resource conservation.

“I remember receiving books on tree and animal track identification for Christmas while I was in high school and taking every opportunity to explore the land around me to utilize them,” he said.

Trickey also credits his wife, Cheyenne, for supporting him and pushing him into new experiences. Having met as freshmen in college, they have since travelled across the United States sharing their passion for conservation. Moving together to Illinois, Trickey started working on habitat improvement teams and has worked his way to a DWB position with IDNR. Meanwhile, Cheyenne is working to complete her PhD while running the scaup banding project on Illinois’ portion of Pool 19 in the Mississippi River.

While he may have only been serving as a DWB for a few months now, Trickey has a diversity of hands-on experiences under his belt. Born and raised in northern New York, near the Canada-United States border, Trickey attended the State University of New York at Morrisville for his bachelor’s degree. From there, he hiked and meandered his way across the country, working on various teams completing conservation field work and taking in the beautiful scenery around him.

Serving as a U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Tech in Nebraska, Trickey recalls the Sand Hills as “some of the most beautiful landscapes I ever put my eye on with its untouched beauty and prairie.”

In 2017, Trickey went to work for Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game on a team tasked with monitoring wolf populations in the Bitterroot Mountains. He recalls the job being physically demanding, with hundreds of miles of hiking,  multiple day hitches, and the overall physical requirements of the job. However, the opportunity to work with large carnivores made the demand worth it.  

“While on our hitches through the landscape, you had the freedom to stop and explore the local habitat or even fly fish local bodies of water for cutthroat trout, which I really enjoyed,” said Trickey.

A biologist with a ball cap holds up a female wild duck. IN the background is a wetland and trees against a blue sky.
Photo by Jared Trickey.

Trickey also worked for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia where he was trained in prescribed fire and other wildfire suppression.

“It was a great learning experience and was amazing to learn what fire can do as a tool for habitat preservation and rehabilitation,” said Trickey. “This is where I really learned to get deep into the weeds of habitat management, through hands-on identification and practices.”

In 2021, Trickey went to work as a Farm Bill Biologist, which is where he honed his skills in helping the public with conservation.

“I really enjoyed the public aspects of this job, such as talking to the public about habitat restoration and preservation and giving them feedback on how to reach their goals,” Trickey noted.

In addition to his professional roles in Illinois wildlife, Trickey also finds ample time to volunteer with Illinois Pheasants Forever as a Burn Boss. A Burn Boss is the individual tasked with ensuring safe and effective prescribed fire implementation on a variety of habitat cover types. Trickey also finds it important to help teach others about conducting prescribed fire.

“I like to work with individuals looking for hands-on experiences,” he noted. “By slowing down and taking the time to let them experience the process, I feel that I can impact more acres by getting more people involved in habitat improvement.”

Jared Trickey joined IDNR this past winter as a District Wildlife Biologist serving DeKalb, Lee, Ogle and Winnebago counties. Trickey’s main office is located within the Green River State Wildlife Area, a state site that’s rich in history and wildlife diversity. 

“The initial land purchase for the Green River State Wildlife Area was authorized on December 20, 1938 under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, one of the first in the state,” said Trickey. “The site is home to so many ecosystems: prairie and remnant prairie, wetlands and swamp, and even upland oak timber. I look forward to doing work at Green River to preserve the beauty of its habitat diversity, especially as it sits surrounded by agricultural fields.”

Trickey’s work towards habitat preservation and restoration started early this spring, with a successful prescribed burn taking place in March. In the upcoming season, he expects to undertake more habitat work, such as mowing and herbicide spraying.

We look forward to seeing Jared put his ample experience to work for the ecosystems of Illinois. Welcome, Jared!

Kaleigh Gabriel is a Wildlife Outreach Specialist with Lewis and Clark Community College, working out of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources building to assist the Division of Wildlife Resources. Growing up just between Sangamon and Christian counties, she spent a lot of her time hunting and fishing in Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in writing/journalism from Manchester University, Indiana.

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