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FNR Alumna Brianne Lowe Earns NRCS Award

Brianne Lowe, the state biologist for the Indiana USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, has received one of four national biologist awards from the NRCS.

Lowe (maiden name Hicks), who earned her bachelor’s in wildlife from Purdue FNR in 2001, received an honorable mention for her work with the Women4theLand Initiative.

In the award announcement, the NRCS states that Lowe is receiving the award: “for her leadership in the Women4theLand Initiative in Indiana since its inception in 2013. Even before the partnership effort became a formal initiative, Brianne worked with outside partners to learn the methodology and became a facilitator for women-only learning circles. She has facilitated more women’s learning circles than anyone else in the state. Brianne created and introduced new curriculum and content and has been the chairperson for the Program Committee for the last four years. Brianne also recruits, trains and oversees the female resource professionals serving as learning circle facilitators. She’s been an invaluable part of the success of this innovative initiative, which has reached nearly 1,600 Indiana women with conservation information over the last several years. Brianne and her family grow herbs, vegetables and fruit trees; keep chickens and bees; and make maple syrup. They hosted a Purdue Extension event geared towards veteran farmers with a field day to show a small working farmstead.”

Lowe also is hosting a second event in conjunction with the Hendicks County Soil and Water District and Clean Water Indiana, specifically on managing wildlife habitat on private land this summer.

Lowe said the award was both a surprise and an honor.

“I have always had a passion for helping landowners manage wildlife in an integrated, multi-use landscape,” Lowe said. “I strongly believe that agriculture, urban settings and wildlife are not mutually exclusive, and can coexist when planned and managed correctly. The best part of my job is working with an amazing group of colleagues to facilitate landowners in making this connection and seeing their enthusiasm for implementing conservation practices. To be acknowledged for these efforts was a surprise and an honor and is deeply appreciated.

The Women4theLand Initiative is a partnership of agricultural and natural resource conservation agencies and organizations, working together to provide information, networking, education and resources to Indiana women landowners and farmers. More information about Women4theLand can be found on their website and also on Facebook.

After graduating from Purdue with her wildlife degree in 2001, Lowe went on to earn a master’s degree in zoology from the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University.

She began her career as a Wetland Biologist with the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation and Development Council. From there, Lowe went on to be a resource specialist for the Division of Soil Conservation with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. She then spent six years as a soil conservationist as part of the conservation implementation team with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The next five years saw Lowe act as the state easement program specialist with the NRCS. She took the role of state biologist in July 2016, a position in which she assembles current scientific data and resources to develop recommendations for the implementation of practices to address wildlife concerns. She is a part of six national teams:
  • Conservation Innovation Grant Review Panel – Pollinator 2020
  • National Biology Manual and Handbook Review and Revision Team co-chair
  • CART Wildlife Assessment Coordination Team
  • 420 Wildlife Habitat Planting Payment Schedule Review Team
  • Pilot New National WHEG Template
  • National Review Committee CPS 595 Pest Management.
Lowe was the state federal women’s program manager for six years, until December 2018, helping improve outreach programs for women, planning and implementing women’s learning circles, developing a state fact sheet on working with women landowners and organizing and planning a statewide diversity day on the Federal Women’s Program: Cultivating the Role of Women in Agriculture.

Currently, she is the chair of the Rural and Agricultural Land Sector Subcommittee for the Indiana Monarch Summit and also the chair of the training and workshop support subcommittee for Women4theLand.

“I am ever grateful for my foundation from the FNR department,” Lowe said. “I hope this encourages wildlife students to pursue a path in the agriculture sector.”

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