Molly McKay is the Land Conservationist for Langlade County. She’s served in the county office for the past five years. An avid hiker and lake enthusiast, Molly is passionate about the outdoors, environmental education, and the health of local ecosystems.
What previous experience/education prepared you for your position in the County Conservationist office?
I studied natural resources and biology at UW-Stevens Point, so I had a solid understanding of conservation issues. My professional experience leading up to working for the county was primarily in environmental education. I worked as a naturalist in classrooms and in a bird rehabilitation and education facility. My experience as an environmental educator really helped me learn how to communicate about conservation issues and form relationships with people – two things that I think are very important in this field.
What drew you to conservation work?
I want to do work that I feel is important and makes a difference. Conservation is where it’s at.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on getting a grazing network started in the county; and what feels like a million other projects.
What project are you the proudest of?
The project I am proudest of is the culvert installation on the Hunting River. It was a successful collaboration with a large group of stakeholders and a great example of partnership. Not long after we completed the installation, trout were reported in reaches of the river where they previously were not. We succeeded in reconnecting the river. It’s great to see the results of a project.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing projects that are completed and that start showing benefits is the greatest reward. A functioning grazing system or a location where a runoff issue is stopped gives me a tremendous sense of pride and justifies why I do this.
What does the future of Wisconsin conservation look like?
I admit that there are days when it looks bleak. But I have high hopes for the innovative solutions that are being developed across the state.
How would you improve the state of conservation in Wisconsin?
Tough question because our issues are so complex. As a start, I would provide more funding for conservation and more accountability for agriculture. More education on conservation topics to create an informed citizenship would be wonderful too!
What is one interesting fact about your county that few may know?
My favorite fact about Langlade County is that we have 843 lakes here. It is often thought of as potato country (also true), but the top of the county is incredibly water-rich.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in your county?
I would have to say hiking. We have extensive trails in Langlade County. Right now my favorite trail runs along the wild Wolf River – what a gem.
When you’re not working, you’re…
Probably out in the woods or on a lake.