The day after I posted how much I loved living on site at my job, I found out I’ll be cut to 50% next June; that’s effectively a layoff. It was probably inevitable that the state budget cuts would catch up to me.

The thing I will miss most about this job will actually be the Trumpeter Swans. (This is a photo that I took near my front door.)   I never was a birder until I took this job; it was all about the bugs. But I completely fell in love with Trumpeters living on this lake.

They are big, not terribly bright, and incredibly soft.  They have HUGE feet. Add in a recovery from near extinction and fluffy cygnets, and they’re impossible to resist.

But, while it will be hard to say goodbye to my awesome co-workers, students, and the swans, I’m kind of excited about the possibility of a completely new start.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now know this job was waaay beyond a 40hr/wk employment experience; I wasn’t able to have much of a life other than work.  Aside from a rather spherical cat, I don’t have any dependents anymore; I am free to move anywhere I want.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what I want to do with the next 15 years until I can (in theory) retire.  I know what I’m good at; in fact, despite some considerable challenges, I think I’ve done some of the best work of my career in this job.  I’m good at social media and instructional design; I’m good with students, and I’m a good teacher and manager.  Somehow, if I can sort out how to combine that with bugs or nature-y stuff, I’ll be all set.

It’s clear to me that I need to do more hands-on stuff to really be happy. I’ve been applying for some very long shot jobs that I’m quite geeked about, but I don’t expect to successfully land.

The hard part is explaining why someone with a PhD wants to be a low-level flunky.  I’ve done the high-level admin thing. I climbed up the career ladder, and I found out the stuff towards the top is a lot less interesting to me than what’s at the bottom.

I would much rather be cleaning poop out of cages than planning a grant to fund the cages and poop cleaners, or create a multi-year strategic poop plan.

If you happen to know of any poopy jobs opening in the near future, please send them my way.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Wow. 1. so sorry about job deflation. That sucks. I remember when I was a fed, state folks with an equivalent job got paid twice what I did, but their budget was WAY more variable, as was their job security. Scary! 2. I SO get that downwardly mobile thing. Higher up is frequently less fun and more and more distant from what you love/why you got into this in the first place/less inspiring. 3. I hope you get something so you are in the thick of it, get sweaty and dirty, and arrive home at the end of the day completely happy. =)

  2. Sadly, I get paid poorly, AND have low job security :(

  3. Mmm, a year and a half ago I found myself jobless and did the poop-scraping thing at a zoo and then had to quit before I went completely batshit crazy… move to west Texas! Most everywhere is hiring, the pay is low, the housing is cheap, the flora and fauna are COMPLETELY understudied… yeah, hubby and I are minions at a motel and birding/bugging it up in our spare time =) is one fruit of our groundskeeping, housekeeping and office-sitting labor. Agapema moths out the proverbial ‘wazoo.’ =D

  4. Sorry to hear about you job situation, but happy to hear about a possibility at Rookery Bay. SW Florida is an entomologist’s paradise. I’m a retired photojournalist that has fallen in love with the bug world and am having a ball exploring. If you’re interested I can email you a couple of my latest photos.

  5. “in theory?”

    You meant “hypothetically,” of course.

  6. A long time ago when I was in school, a professor opined that “irony” was one of the driving forces in the universe…or something along those lines. Secure in the arrogance of youth, I condescendingly dismissed the idea. Thirty years late, I’m not so sure.

    Anyway, I’m sorry for your cutback but I’m sure something good will come of it; I’m guessing it usually does for you. And at least it’s good to know that God still has a sense of humor. Hang in there. Chris

Comments are closed.