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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Employee Spotlights
Division of Habitat

Ron Benkert, Habitat Biologist III

Photo of Ron Benkert

Education and Background

I received a B.S. in Fisheries Biology from Humboldt State University. Upon graduation, I worked various lab and field technician jobs working on several salmonid monitoring projects in Alaska and Oregon.

What brought you to Alaska or where did you grow up in Alaska?

I was born in Fairbanks, but moved to Anchorage just before the Good Friday earthquake. One of my very first memories! After an 11 year stint in California, we returned to Alaska in 2008, having spent about 10 years too many down south.

Why did you pick this career?

I grew up hunting and fishing around the Kenai peninsula and originally wanted to become an oyster farmer. That didn’t pan out, but my experience in mining and heavy construction coupled with my fisheries experience has helped me develop my career as a habitat biologist.

What is the best part of your job?

I enjoy working on projects that have direct benefits to Alaskans. Getting in to the field and seeing parts of the state I haven’t been to before is the best part of the job.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Developing and negotiating creative solutions associated with controversial development projects. Although this may be the one of the hardest parts of the job, it can also be one of the most rewarding if you negotiate solutions that all parties can live with.

Tell us something about your life outside of work - or what drives you as a person.

I spend as much time as I can boating and fishing in Prince William Sound and enjoy exploring and fishing our local Mat-Su streams. In winter, I try to get as much time in on the slopes as I can.



Bill Morris, Regional Supervisor

Photo of Bill Morris and son

Education and Background

I received an A.A.S. in Environmental Ecology and Technology (aquatic sciences, limnology, water chemistry, biology) from Paul Smith’s College in upstate NY, a B.S. in Biological Sciences, a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and finally an M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I’ve been with Habitat in Fairbanks since 1996 when I started as a College Intern.

What brought you to Alaska or where did you grow up in Alaska?

I grew up hunting and fishing with my Dad and we had always talked about how amazing it would be to come here just to see it; and maybe hunt moose and caribou and fish for 50 lb. salmon. Sometime in my teens I decided I wanted to live here, having a top notch wildlife program at UAF gave me the excuse to try it.

Why did you pick this career?

Two forces in my life moved me towards a career in biology. Hunting, fishing, hiking and picking mushrooms with my Dad was extremely influential. Everything I liked to do was about animals and nature. Then, probably around 8th Grade, I read “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George, and that pretty much cemented my path (coincidentally, or otherwise, I now regularly work with Ms. George’s son Craig). Virtually all of my interests are and always have been fish and game related so the basic path to this career was natural.

What is the best part of your job?

I get to work with an incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable group of fish and wildlife biologists every day. If you pay attention, there is always something new to learn and that makes the job fun.

What is the hardest part of your job?

I am very new to this position so I’m sure I have not yet seen the hardest part of the job; I’ll reserve judgment. Generally, I make a conscious effort to be thorough, fair and practical in my approach to permitting and project reviews to ensure we are helping to accomplish the Department’s Mission. One of my concerns with the added responsibility is not being able to spend as much time as I would like in the field.

Tell us something about your life outside of work - or what drives you as a person.

I spend as much time as possible hunting, fishing and trapping but hours of playing action heroes and “super spaceship” are my most important activities. Most of my days revolve around my 3 year old son, Bill the 4th. He is already chomping at the bit to get out on the trapline and he loves going to moose camp. If all goes well, 12 more years and I won’t have to carry another moose quarter ever again! Mom hasn’t given approval for the trapline yet; but I think she’s breaking!



Jennifer Severance, Administrative Assistant III

Photo of Jennifer Severance

Education and Background

Graduated from Dimond High School in 2001.

What brought you to Alaska or where did you grow up in Alaska?

Born and raised here in Anchorage; enjoy having family and friends so close.

Why did you pick this career?

I love the variety of tasks I do daily as an administrative assistant. I never get bored and I am constantly learning new things.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the people I work with. I have never worked with a group of people that are so caring, appreciative, and supportive of each other. I started with Habitat in 2007. A year later, I accepted a promotion with the Department of Environmental Conservation. I enjoyed my time with DEC; however, I missed the Habitat group greatly. I looked at Workplace AK daily hoping for an opening. It took over 2 ½ years but it did happen. I’m grateful to get up every day and go to a job I love.

What is the hardest part of your job?

I honestly cannot say that anything about my job is “hard”. When I run into tasks that I am not familiar with, I am able to contact numerous colleagues for assistance, which makes difficult situations stress free. The Division, as well as the Department, offers a lot of support and guidance so that I am able get the information needed to complete the job at hand.

Tell us something about your life outside of work - or what drives you as a person.

I am blessed to have an incredible family and support system outside of work as well. I married the love of my life, Alvin, as well as welcomed our first child, Gwendalynn, in 2010. When not at work, you will find me with my family. Whether we are listening to live music, doing activities around town, or just hanging out at our home, we always are laughing and having fun - we genuinely love being a family!

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