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Rick Gitar turned his love of plants into a career with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota.
Gitar, who graduated in 1993 with a major in environmental biology, is a water regulatory specialist with the Office of Water Protection on the Fond du Lac Reservation near Cloquet. He is beginning work on a wetland restoration plan for the reservation.
"Wetlands are very important to contributing in water quality," Gitar said. "At Fond du Lac, water quality is one of the most important things band members are concerned with."
Gitar is beginning by mapping out wetland areas on the reservation that need to be restored. The project is waiting for an Environmental Protection Agency grant, but Gitar says work will probably be in full swing by summer 2011.
Wetlands weren't Gitar's first area of focus as a college student. His interest in the habitat stemmed from his love for plants that he developed while working with Dr. Donald Davidson, a former faculty member and Gitar's mentor throughout his college career at UW-Superior.
"After I graduated from UW-Superior they hired me to teach the plant science laboratory sections," Gitar said. "That's how Don and I were still working together at that time. We got involved in wetlands because the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wanted someone to monitor their wetlands that they had along highways."
Gitar's work preserving wetlands hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2009 he was awarded the National Wetland Award for Outstanding Wetland Development by the Environmental Law Institute. The award is given to a state, tribal or local government employee who has administered an outstanding wetland program.
He was given the award based on his work with the wetland regulatory program at Fond du Lac. Anyone who wants to make an impact on the wetlands, such as building a house on them, needs to go through the reservation and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Read more Superior Alumni profiles.
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