My WLA Story – Meet the Multimedia Marketing Specialist

Hello everyone! My name is Katie Mace, and I am the Wildlife Leadership Academy’s new Multimedia Marketing Specialist. As an alum of the Academy, I am no stranger to the program. I’ve been working behind-the-scenes on the NextGen Blog for years sharing the incredible articles written by our Conservation Ambassadors, but today its my turn to share my WLA story. 

I grew up in rural central Pennsylvania – specifically the kind of rural that doesn’t have a single stop light in our school district. My childhood memories revolve around playing outside with my older brothers in the woods, catching crayfish in the creek, and riding four-wheelers on dusty field roads. My family spent our summer weekends camping – hiking to scenic vistas, long bike rides, and evenings around a campfire. Today, I still love to go camping, archery hunting, and traveling to new places. There is nothing I enjoy more than “adventuring” outdoors.

My family on one of my first camping trips
Hiking the Grand Canyon this past spring

In middle school, I was selected to be a member of my school’s Envirothon team by my 8th grade science teacher Mr. Weller. We traveled to Montour Preserve for the competition where we were tested on a variety of topics. The competition was the first time I can remember meeting people with careers in the wildlife/conservation field. At the end of the day, my teammates and I were about to leave right before the awards ceremony. To us, there was no chance that we placed. I remember losing all hope after they read the second-place team. I was ready to walk to the bus when all of a sudden, my teammates were cheering – we won the competition!

My 8th grade Envirothon team

As I entered high school, I had no idea what career path I wanted to follow. I kept thinking back to the Envirothon and all those professionals that I had met that day who worked for the Game Commission and DCNR. During my sophomore year, I was nominated to apply for the Wildlife Leadership Academy by Mr. Weller. I attended the first PA Gobblers field school in 2017. I treated my field school experience as a test to whether or not I wanted to pursue a career in the wildlife field. I had a blast at field school – learning about turkeys, forestry, and conservation. At the end of the week, I remember feeling deeply conflicted. I loved my week at the Academy but I couldn’t see myself going to school to become a wildlife biologist. 

PA Gobblers, Class of 2017

I completed my outreach projects throughout the following year and earned the opportunity to return to Gobblers as a Youth Mentor. The next few summers after that I returned as an Academy Support Team staff member. During my first semester of college, I applied to work part time for WLA as a Social Media and Web Content Specialist. I started managing the NextGen Blog and social media content. My role expanded when the pandemic hit and WLA transitioned to virtual field schools. Since then, I’ve helped with website updates, designing publications, and documenting the field school experience through daily highlight videos. Most recently, I worked as the Field School Supervisor for the 2023 field school season.

Staff photo at Brookies in 2022

While my Wildlife Leadership Academy experience didn’t lead me to a career as a biologist, the support and opportunities the program have provided me have been invaluable. My work as the Social Media Specialist opened the door for me into the digital content creation world. Throughout college, I worked with a variety of community partners to update their digital presence. This past spring, I graduated from Juniata College with a degree in Integrated Media Arts with a secondary emphasis in Marketing. 

Starting November 1st, I was provided the opportunity to transition my part time role into a full-time position with the Academy. I am overjoyed to be able to stay with WLA as their Multimedia Marketing Specialist as I begin my professional career. I am so grateful for the opportunities the program has provided me, and I am excited to continue supporting next generation of Conservation Ambassadors. 

The photos used in this blog belong to the author and the Wildlife Leadership Academy.