My name is Jared Wood, and I am the new Natural Resource Manager at the Refuge. As a native of Waurika, Oklahoma, I spent most of my youth playing sports and roaming the countryside, searching for critters, especially amphibians and reptiles. Growing up in a town that hosts an annual rattlesnake roundup sparked my interest in conservation, so after graduating high school in 2006, I chose to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University to pursue a degree in conservation. During my time at Southeastern, I had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of field projects. I also led multiple projects that pertained to alligator, turtle, or wetland conservation. After graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of Louisville. Under the guidance of my late mentor, Dr. David Reed, I investigated the introduction histories and ecological impacts of invasive Nile monitors and Argentine black-and-white tegus in Florida.
After completing my doctorate degree in 2016, I accepted a faculty position at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU), located in Keene, Texas. During my tenure at SWAU, I oversaw the development and implementation of the Ecology and Conservation undergraduate program, conducted research on a variety of fish and wildlife species (including a three-year study on American alligators in Oklahoma), and dedicated my service time to developing close working relationships with state and local parks. My passion for working with land managers led me to meeting Rob Denkhaus in 2018. After one conversation with Rob, followed by a survey of the Refuge, I was hooked, and I made it a point to bring students to the Refuge every semester. In addition to my ecological background, I also served as the director of the SWAU Dinosaur Museum and Research Center for five years. The SWAU Dinosaur Museum houses the largest collection of Lance Formation fossils in the world, and it hosts one of the largest public dinosaur digs in the United States. My time as the director of this museum taught me invaluable lessons about managing logistics, creating capital campaigns, and conveying scientific information to the public — all skills that I am excited to bring to the Nature Center.
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Heather; three children, Drake (17), Dina (13), and Harper (3 months…long story); dogs, Brennan (chocolate Lab) and Bentley (German shepherd); and our red-bellied parrot, Radar. I also enjoy playing baseball, collecting and playing guitars, and shooting and hunting.
I am excited to be part of the great staff we have here at the Nature Center, and I can think of no better career opportunity in which to be involved with conservation, research, and education and outreach. Great care, planning, dedication, and sacrifice went into establishing the legacy of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. My goal is to protect this legacy so that as the great City of Fort Worth continues to grow and expand, our community can enjoy and learn from this natural treasure for generations to come.
I am looking forward to this new adventure and to meeting each of you. Please come be a part of the great things happening at the Nature Center.