A graduate from Illinois State University, which is located in a community named Normal, Eileen Bader’s passion for her work is anything but.
Bader holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Master of Environmental Science in water resources. She credits her mother for her interest in science. “My mom is a physics teacher and so from a young age I was exposed to the wonderful world of science,” says Bader. “Growing up, I loved being outside and going on camping trips with my family. I thought it would be perfect to combine my love of science and the outdoors into a career.”
Eileen works for The Nature Conservancy in Iowa and is also project director for the Boone River Watershed project.
“One of the aspects of my job that I really enjoy is that my day-to-day activities vary widely throughout the year.” In the summer Eileen spends time outside gathering water samples, coordinating field days and hosting tours of the watershed. In the fall she meets with project partners and helps farmers and landowners with planning and implementation of conservation practices on their land.
She is currently working to restore oxbows. Eileen explains, “An oxbow is a meander of a river that has been cut off from the present flow of water either by process of a river’s natural lateral movement or as a result of channel straightening. Functioning oxbows can provide numerous benefits to people such as water filtration, flood storage as well as habitat for wildlife.”
“The slow moving water found in oxbows in critically important for the endangered Topeka shiner, a minnow that needs off-channel habitat to complete its life cycle,” Bader continues. “Over time, as oxbows become filled with sediment, their ability to provide benefits for these fish decreases.”
So far, Eileen has helped restore four oxbows within the Boone River Watershed over the past two years and is working with landowners to restore more this year.
Eileen also works for The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization in all 50 states and in over 30 countries. Eileen adds, “It provides me with a global view of the environmental challenges we are faced with and also perspective on how the work I do in Iowa contributes to change at a much bigger scale.”
It is clear that Eileen has an appreciation for natural resources, especially water. She even named her Chesapeake Bay retriever after a body of water, “Tunk.” Eileen says that he is named after Tunk Lake in Maine and loves to go swimming after their runs on hot summer days.
To learn more about Eileen’s work and the oxbows in the Boone River Watershed project, click HERE.