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Wildlife Biologist/Environmental Scientist, Skelly and Loy, Inc. Engineering Environmental Consultants

Logan Zugay (B.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Science, 2011) is a wildlife biologist/environmental scientist with Skelly and Loy, Inc. Engineering Environmental Consultants. He is also a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/PA Fish and Boat Commission Qualified Phase 2 Bog Turtle Surveyor.

Q: What are your job responsibilities?

My daily responsibilities include delineation of wetlands and watercourses, Threatened and Endangered (T&E) species habitat assessments, and coordination with jurisdictional agencies (particularly, the bog turtle), presence/probable absence surveys for herptiles and bats, report writing, and permit composition.

As a consultant, one of my goals is to help collect data necessary to acquire permits for construction activities such as roadwork or bridge/culvert replacements. Wetland and watercourse delineations are the keystone of what I do and are the majority of my work. Also, helping to develop and implement avoidance and minimization measures for both aquatic resources and T&E species is a significant task.

In April 2015, I was added to the USFWS/PFBC lists of Qualified Phase 2 bog turtle surveyors. My responsibilities include evaluating wetlands as potential suitable habitat for the species and coordinating with USFWS. As a seasonal activity (April 15 through June 15), I conduct Phase 2 surveys that are used to determine presence or probable absence of the species in particular wetlands deemed to be considered potential bog turtle habitat. Only 33 biologists are recognized as qualified Phase 2 surveyors in Pennsylvania per PFBC.

Q: What was your educational path to Penn State and to degree completion?

I graduated from Mechanicsburg Area Senior High (Me­chanicsburg, PA) in 2007. I opted to study and play baseball at Penn State Harrisburg from Fall 2007 through Spring 2009 be­fore changing location to University Park. In May 2011, I gradu­ated from the College of Agricultural Sciences, School of Forest Resources, with a B.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science.

I chose Penn State for multiple reasons, but the most impor­tant was the reputation of the wildlife program. When it comes to natural resources, there are few places in Pennsylvania or the country that can compare to Penn State’s education and reputa­tion. Knowing that I was interested in wildlife biology, I couldn’t have picked a better place.

Q: What additional training or education have you completed since earning your baccalaureate degree?

Logan ZugayBog Turtle Phase 2 Qualified Surveyor field audit (2015)

Bog Turtle research surveys with The Nature Conservancy (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015) and Maryland DNR (2015)

Maryland Biological Stream Assessment (2014, 2015)

Q: What were some of your activities as a student?

  • The Wildlife Society – I attended meetings, but particu­larly enjoyed the guest speakers like bat biologist Dr. Dan Riskin. There were plenty of opportunities to listen to some of the leading experts in their respective fields as well as get together with classmates such as the pot luck dinner at the Boalsburg fire hall.
  • A work-study position with Dr. Jason Kaye (Soil Biogeo­chemistry) – At the time, I didn’t realize how impor­tant a solid foundation in soils would be to my future career, but it is an integral part of my work, particularly wetlands. As a member of Dr. Kaye’s lab, I assisted sev­eral master’s and Ph.D. candidates with their research. The exposure I received to great minds in the lab was tremendous. I learned more about soil biogeochemistry from working in that lab for two years than I could have imagined.
  • Penn State – I was fortunate to participate in Varsity baseball at Penn State Harrisburg (Division 3) during my freshman and sophomore years.

Q: How did you get interested in the major you selected?

I’ve always had an interest in wildlife and nature since I was young. My family joked that I was destined to be a biologist after watching a show on the lifecycle of earthworms when I was 4 years old. Whether it was reading flash cards about exotic species or trying to catch spring peepers and Luna moths at my grandparents’ farmhouse, I wanted to learn about as many animals as I could. To this day, I’m still captivated by shows like Planet Earth on The Discovery Channel.

Q: How did you get to where you are today?

In summer 2008, I interned with my current company. I was lucky enough to have met somebody who suggested applying for the internship to see how I liked the consulting industry. At the time, I was still unsure about what career path to take, but the internship experience really opened my eyes to the opportuni­ties and possibilities in consulting.

As far as where I am in my career, hard work is the best explanation. Sometimes you have to be willing to go the extra mile when everyone else has packed it in for the day. I want to be great at what I do, so that has motivated me to have success early in my career.