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Current and Past Residents

The IL DNR Division of Natural Heritage and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission are proud of the Residency Program and the successes that former Residents have had in securing scarce jobs in natural resources fields. Residents have found meaningful employment with a wide variety of local, state, and federal natural resource agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit companies nationwide. See what our residents are doing!

Heather Osborn

Heather Osborn was a natural heritage resident from February of 2018-2019. She is from Hartsburg, IL (near Lincoln!) and graduated with her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2019. Before attending Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Heather received an M.S. in Biology from Western Illinois University. Heather's residency provided her with many opportunities for personal growth related to independence and confidence. She also values the land management experiences that she obtained learned from her residency that land management is not "one size fits all". Currently, Heather is working for IDNR Heritage Division as the Incidental Take Authorization Coordinator. This means that she is responsible for permitting projects that are under construction in places where there are known endangered and/or threatened animal species populations and working with developers to find a compromise between the project and the protection of the population. A fun fact about Heather is that she visited the State Fair every summer as a child with Logan County 4-H to show, or to support her brother's show, and each year would convince her family to walk through conservation world!

Tara Kieninger

Tara Kieninger was a natural heritage resident in 1997. She is from Alton, Illinois and graduated from Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale with an M.S in Zoology. Through her residency, Tara learned that she had a love for the technical side of the environmental field. Currently, Tara is working at her dream job as the Natural Heritage Database Program Manager, tracking endangered and threatened species and natural areas via databases and through spatial Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A fun fact about Tara is that she is skilled in reading lips.


Read our @ORC "residents at work" newsletter to learn about other former residents!

Are you a former Resident checking up on the program?

We'd love to hear from you! Please drop an email to "Contact Us" and share your thoughts about the program and tell us about your professional status. We will keep your response confidential unless you give us permission to share your testimonial.