She’s all girl but if you need someone to pick up a heavy table, traipse about in the field, find that elusive rare plant – just call Allix North.
Yes – her name is spelled a little bit different and she is a little bit different from the average person. Snakes, wild boar, alligators, otters, bears, or any of the other wild animals we have in the uplands at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve do not scare her. In fact, we tease and say that the wild animals better watch out! She is one of a kind and perfect for the Buffer Preserve.
When she joined the crew at the Preserve in January 2014 it was her first fulltime job in her chosen field. She had worked at jobs to get through school and volunteered at Eglin Air Force on prescribed burns and was well on her way to reaching her career goals. Excited is all Dylan Shoemaker, the manager of the Preserve told his other employees about Allix going to join their team.
While many would be intimidated in a mostly male field it doesn’t bother Allix at all! Her fellow employees like to say that if a man can do the job, so can Allix. Whether it is Money Bayou or Depot Creek or points in between she is the person for the job. Since starting at the Preserve she has added 2.5 miles of trails for visitors to explore.
If you Google “people who love to be outdoors” you will find Allix North as the perfect example. In fact, if you want to almost punish her just make her work from a desk and a computer. She does an excellent job when she gets to it, however, it is not on her list of fun things to do.
The other employees normally see Allix early in the day (if they get there early enough) or right about going home time for her. You might meet her on the road in a tractor or truck on the way to mow or check rainfall totals or hear her on the radio. It took a little while to convince her that she needed to let her whereabouts be known to staff at the office because they would have a heck of a time knowing where to start on 5,019 acres.
So, we said she likes to burn – to be clear that’s zones in the Buffer Preserve and in a prescribed fire regime. She has worked from volunteer to Burn Boss getting that distinction just a couple of weeks ago. To reach that goal she invested thousands of hours of training, because as she puts it “every time I am on a prescribed fire it is an opportunity to train and improve my knowledge and skills as a practitioner of fire”. That includes one annual Pack Test which is carrying a minimum of 45 lbs. in the heat of the day and walking 3 miles in 45 minutes.
Her work week does not end with the normal forty of a fulltime job. She also volunteers regularly with the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department, and works weekends at Half Hitch Tackle.
So, Manager Dylan Shoemaker and the staff of the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve along with volunteers and Friends of the Preserves are proud to have Allix on their team. While you may not see her (in person) so much you know she has been there because she loves her work and is constantly finding ways to improve the Preserve.