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Entophile?

August 21, 2021

It has been a while since my last post on this blog. It is painful for me write about this because generally I don’t enjoy reading people’s complaints about not having kept up with their blog, but it is true for me now, and I feel like writing about it, so here we go.

There was a time when I identified as an entomologist. That was actually my official title at work, job series 0414 Entomologist. Granted I was working as a pest management consultant, and lets face it, pest management is kind of at the low end of respectability when it comes to entomology. But nevertheless, I could say that I was an entomologist, and people came to with their bug questions. I was traveling to different military bases across the Pacific to train pesticide applicators and inspect pest management programs – it was a great time. Or should I say it was great for me. I had young children in those days so it was not so great for my spouse who had to be a single parent while I was off doing entomology for chunks of time in exotic places. Looking back on it I was kind of selfish, and I am maybe paying the price now that I am not as close with my kids, but then again that could just be my emotionally detached personality. Regardless of all that, it was a fun being an entomologist.

Eventually, the toll on my family became noticeable, and I could see it was becoming more of a problem, so I changed jobs. I was no longer a Navy pest management consultant for the Pacific area. I became a Navy natural resources manager in Hawaii. I have to admit there were also some other more selfish reasons for that change. I saw an opportunity to get more into conservation, which was appealing to me. Also I figured I would have more chances to do surveys for native Hawaiian insects, which was even more exciting. This ended up being partially true, but the longer I was in that job, the more I got pushed into program administration and management. I suppose that is the natural progression of one’s career, but that doesn’t really make it any more palatable. I started out as the lone biologist in my new organization, and after about 8 years I was the team lead of a small group. I did manage get involved with insect related projects when they came up, so it wasn’t all bad, but it got to the point where I wasn’t really enjoying it anymore, and I was yearning for those days of traveling to Singapore, Japan, Korea, Guam, etc.

It was a tough decision, but I made up my mind to get back to that place where I was happy and had that entophile identity. Shortly after I decided to leave my natural resources position, I was told that they were going change my position to a higher grade, which would be a promotion for me. I was asked to reconsider, and I did, but in the end I stuck to my guns and left. It was hard because at one point we had a pretty tight team, which I now realize is extremely rare. My spouse also questioned the wisdom of passing up a promotion, but she was also very supportive and wanted what was best for me. Like I said, I did not lose my resolve, and I left. The only problem with that was the entomologist in my old position was not going to retire for another year, so I had to take a completely different job in the meantime. I ended up working in Range Sustainment, and by range I mean military ranges used for training. Not really my field of expertise, but I figured I could do it until my old job opened up. I muddled through munitions and operational range clearance work for a little less than a year, but I was able to travel to Okinawa a couple times so it wasn’t all bad.

Eventually the guy retired and I was finally able to get into my old Entomologist position. I was even in the same cubicle when I started almost 16 years ago. The only problem now was a global pandemic. No one was in the office, and there was no travel. I was finally back to being entomologist, but it was definitely not the same. I have to say though, I was still a lot happier, and I felt my old identity coming back.

Unfortunately this was short lived. My boss got promoted, which left his position vacant. As luck (maybe bad luck, I don’t know) would have it, many of the folks in my new team were ineligible for the supervisor position because they were new, and the ones that were eligible were not interested. The most logical qualified choice for supervisor job wasn’t interested in it either, so it fell to me. I didn’t feel like it would be fair to my family to turn down a second promotion, and I didn’t want some random person to be my boss, so I took the position.

So here I am now, feeling a little lost again. My new title is Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist. It has been about one year that I have been doing this. Our entire team is pretty much teleworking full time, and has been doing so since I started. I thought I could do entomology and be a supervisor at the same time, but that has not really worked out at all. I am now in the process of backfilling my previous position, and once that happens I will be even more removed from entomology. It’s all good. I understood when I took this position that my first priority would be our team and the people in our section. And it is nice making a little more money.

This gets back to my identity. Am I really still an entophile? I’m still into bugs, but I don’t feel that same zeal. Maybe I am just out of practice. I do know that I want to start writing in this blog again, but I can’t say it is for certain going to be about insects all the time. Probably too late to change the name though.

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