Jason Courter earned his B.S. in Science Education from Taylor University and his M.S. in Biology from Eastern Kentucky University. He earned his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Clemson University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at Malone University. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids outdoors, birding, traveling, and playing the guitar and banjo.
- In 2 sentences, explain your work with the HWHF?
Malone University recently received a grant from the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation to support the development of a new Marine Biology minor. As part of the grant, a colleague and I (both Assistant Professors of Biology) took a group of students to south Florida to work alongside and establish relationships with conservation partners: Sea to Shore Alliance, the Shark & Research Conservation Program at the University of Miami, and Debris Free Oceans.
- Describe what your organization does best.
Malone University provides opportunities for students to grow holistically (i.e., academically, professionally, personally, and spiritually), oftentimes through close associations with dedicated faculty and staff members.
- What’s the best part of your day?
Instilling a love for the natural world in students and seeing their enthusiasm when they first learn how to identify native plants and animals.
- What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on projects assessing the impacts of traffic noise on avian alarm calls, tracking migratory changes of birds in response to climate change, and using growing degree-days to predict the nesting dates of birds. I am also working with Malone IT personnel on an NSF-funded initiative to remove barriers for utilizing technology for research at smaller predominately undergraduate institutions.
- When did you know you wanted to be a(n) _____________?
I knew that I wanted to be a biology teacher during my sophomore year of college, and halfway through my Master’s program (about five years later), knew that I wanted to teach and research at the college level.
- What piece of advice would you give someone looking to break into this field?
Gain as much research and writing experience as you can, attend conferences, and begin networking with people. On a more general note, working in academia is wonderful but can be competitive and oftentimes involves tradeoffs. Attempt to identify your primary goals and priorities in life, first, and then revisit them regularly and work hard to maintain them as new opportunities arise.
- What do you read for fun?
Right now, mostly children’s books with my kids (Richard Scary books are our current favorites)! A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold is also one of my favorites.
- Are you a Windows or Apple person?
Windows (much to the chagrin of my wife).
- What’s one thing you can’t work without?
- Who do you admire and why?
My Grandpa because of his humility, wisdom, creativity, and faith. He is 94 years old, a veteran of WWII, and a former wood shop teacher. He still enjoys writing poems about his daily observations and experiences and shares them with us when we visit him. A Bible verse that he shared with me when I was younger that has had a lasting impact on me is, ‘To whom much has been given, much is required.’
- What’s the most interesting place you have ever been (for work)?
I attended a meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Edmonton, Alberta, and spent the following week traveling throughout the Canadian Rockies.
- What’s the most interesting thing you have ever done?
Wow – that is a difficult question. I’ll say spending a summer during college working in a remote community of eastern Bolivia.
- What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled for your work?
Costa Rica as part of an ecology trip that I lead for high school students and parents.
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
When former Ornithology students started asking for binoculars for Christmas!
- What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to develop future opportunities for Malone students to participate in field-based ecology experiences abroad.
- What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
Listening to live music or visiting a new baseball stadium.
- If you were on an island and could only bring three things – what would they be?
I’ll say my family (although not technically a ‘thing’), a musical instrument, and my binoculars.
- How do you define success and how do you measure it?
Using the talents and passions that you have been given to serve and meet the needs of others. One way that I measure success is by the quality of relationships that I have developed with others.
- Who were the most important people to help you create success in your life and what did they do for/with you?
There are so many people that have helped me at various points in my life, but I’ll mention my wife and my parents. Both have encouraged, supported, and prayed for me through many moves, transitions, challenges, and victories. I am also deeply grateful for the many ways that I have been professionally and personally mentored by my primary undergraduate and graduate advisors.
- If you could do something as a career other than what you are doing now (no limits) what would it be?
I would like to try to make a living as a song writer.
- What are your top 3 favorite movies of all time?
Three that immediately come to mind are Hoosiers, The Big Year, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
- What are you doing now that will make a positive difference for future generations?
Teaching and mentoring students and training them to understand, appreciate, and care for the natural world.
- What question did we not ask but should ask the next person?
What is your favorite bird?