Jordyn O’Gara’s passion for wolves started as a kid when she used to draw floor plans for the animal sanctuary so she could save all wildlife. Then, when she was 10, she and her parents attended a presentation at the International Wolf Symposium hosted by the International Wolf Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
“At the end when almost everyone had cleared out, one of the Arctic wolves walked right up to the glass and laid down,” she said. “I knew in that moment that I wanted to work with wolves.”
A 2018 graduate of Northland College, O’Gara was hired in June as a fellow at the Timber Wolf Alliance and worked this past summer educating the public about Wisconsin’s gray wolves. Last month, the Timber Wolf Alliance Advisory Board voted to have her continue as the part-time coordinator. O’Gara also works as a veterinarian assistant in Washburn.
As a student, O’Gara studied natural resources with an emphasis on wildlife ecology and ecological restoration, interned at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, and conducted gray fox and wolf research with Erik R. Olson, assistant professor of natural resources, who serves on the TWA Advisory Board.
“With one foot in research and the other in outreach, Jordyn is a positive addition to the Timber Wolf Alliance,” Olson said. “She is capable, knowledgeable, and brings great energy and passion to her work.”
Last week she returned to the place where it all started for her, presenting at the International Wolf Symposium on her research triangulating wolf locations through howl surveys—a method she says is as precise as telemetry.
She is the co-author on articles related to her research on wolf howls and the gray fox. She’s also working on a natural history note with wolf biologist Ron Schultz. Their note focuses on Schultz’s observation of blue eyes in a wolf he trapped.
“Wolves are such an intelligent species constantly being pulled in different directions because of anthropogenic needs and opinions,” O’Gara said. “I want to make a difference in wolf conservation and education.”
This next week she’ll be hosting three events for Wolf Awareness Week. The focus is on the Mexican gray wolf, a species that has returned from the brink of extinction and is now in its second decade of a recovery effort.
“The wolf world can learn a lot from the story of the return of the Mexican wolf,” O’Gara said. “It shows how successful a captive breeding and wild release program can really be.”
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed a proclamation in 1990 for Wolf Awareness Week—the third full week of October—marking a time to celebrate wolves, by highlighting the threats to their survival, spreading the word about what you can do to help wolves stay protected, and helping humans learn to live alongside them.
Schedule of Events
All events start at 7 p.m. at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Tuesday, October 23
Film: Gray Area: Wolves of the Southwest
Thursday, October 25
Panel Discussion: Wolf Management and Education
Friday, October 26
Keynote with John Oakleaf: Mexican Wolf Project: Two Decades of Successful Recovery Efforts
Saturday, October 27
Wolf Ecology Workshop (Register by Oct. 26!)