Sami was born and raised on a small family farm in rural Effingham County. Her family farms a very small acreage of corn and beans, raises beef cows on a rotational grazing system! In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, watching her kiddos play sports and is an avid outdoors woman who loves to hunt and fish.
Conservation Work History
She began working and volunteering at a local nature center as an Environmental Naturalist in the late 1990s/early 2000s. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University with both my B.S. and M.S. degrees. While at EIU, she participated in research on the effects of glyphosate and atrazine on amphibian populations as an undergrad and worked on the floristic composition and structure of a glacial drift hill prairie in south-central Illinois for my graduate research. She has worked for a local Soil and Water District and with the United States Department of Agriculture in the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She worked for NRCS for almost 8 years - promoting conservation practices, surveying/designing these practices, and assisting with the management of contracts that offered monetary assistance. In 2018 she was hired as the District Heritage Biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in south-eastern Illinois, and eventually was hired as the Natural Areas Preservation Specialist with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission in the fall of 2018. She has been tasked with the responsibilities of protecting and defending high quality natural areas and habitats of threatened and endangered species in 18 counties in south-eastern Illinois. She is grateful to be able to assist private and public landowners with the stewardship, management, and protection of their property.
Sami has been burning for almost two decades. She became a volunteer firefighter for the Shumway Fire Protection District (SFPD) in 2008, and only left the department in 2011 due to the birth of her first son. While on the SFPD, she completed Introduction to Incident Command, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness, Technical Rescue Awareness, and Instructor I; all trainings certified by the Illinois State Fire Marshal and/or The Illinois Fire Service Institute. Sami became an Illinois Certified Burn Manager in the fall of 2010 and continued to be actively involved with prescribed fire, working as a private contractor to assist burn crews up until her employment with IDNR in 2018. She continues to work with multiple fire departments and districts, contracting districts to help with prescribed fire and have assisted districts on brush fires throughout her rural district as needed. She has high hopes of forging new relationships with more volunteer districts/departments, assisting with wildland fire training needs and providing funding opportunities (as money allows), all while getting prescribed fire on the landscape in rural Illinois. Besides the ever valuable on the ground training, she has also completed S130 (Firefighter Training), S190 (Introduction to Wildland Firefighting), S212 (Wildland Fire Chainsaws), S290 (Wildland Fire Behavior) and Rx410 (Smoke Management Techniques). Knowledge is power and she hopes to complete more courses as they are offered. Sami has been on hundreds of prescribed burns that have impacted thousands of acres on various natural communities all throughout the state of Illinois. She has never kept a personal tally of the exact number of burns, nor the acres. Sami whole-heartedly believes in the importance of prescribed fire on the Illinois landscape and is excited to be on the Illinois Prescribed Fire Council Board.