Emily Wood is the executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation — a non-profit, grassroots affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation that promotes the conservation, sound management and sustainable use of Indiana’s wildlife and wildlife habitat. Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from Ball State University and has worked in the field of public horticulture for 15 years. Her work has focused on utilizing native plants to create landscapes that are beneficial and supportive of wildlife and pollinators.
Upon the completion of her degree, Emily started her horticulture career at White River Gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo, then went on to manage the exterior gardens at the Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens in Indianapolis. After a decade of working in public display gardens, Emily shifted gears to focus on more sustainable and ecologically functional horticulture. For the next 4 years, Emily worked at local nonprofit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful as the Director of Greenspace, leading community groups through the process of creating functional, distinctive outdoor community spaces that highlight the importance of native plants in urban ecosystems.
After years in the field gaining knowledge and experience in nonprofit management, municipal government and native habitat restoration, Emily was ready to take the helm at the Indiana Wildlife Federation. IWF is celebrating 80 years of common-sense conservation in Indiana, and is poised and ready to continue on that success track as they deliver quality habitat education programs and champion sustainable management practices throughout the state.
Emily is an avid hiker, gardener and photographer. She lives near Southwestway Park in Indianapolis on a small 2-acre farm with her wife Amy, two black cats, six hens and one extremely rude rooster.
How long have you lived in Indy?
Sixteen years! I moved to Indianapolis after finishing my degree at Ball State in 2002.
Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?
With professional experiences on both the government and for-profit side, I feel can do the greatest good and reach more people in my field through a nonprofit.
How did you find your current position?
It found me after about 39 people forwarded me the job posting for executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
Volunteer! It's one of the best ways.
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
Athleticism seems to be something people really enjoy. I’d like to be able to retain basic core motor functions at a pace higher than a walk.
If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?
If I were an inanimate object, I would be a seed. A seed is inanimate, but still possesses the opportunity for personal growth and the occasional chance to throw shade.
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.
The UWT! The Urban Wilderness Trail, IWF’s first Certified Sustainable Trail right in the heart of downtown, is a place you can go to see bald eagles, cliff swallows, least weasels and many, many more examples of how with a little effort, wildlife can thrive in harsh urban environments. The UWT is near the section of White River by IUPUI.
Most important question: News flash: TIME TRAVEL IS REAL! Book your first trip. Tell us where and when you would go, and what you would do when you got there!
I’d love to bust in Kool-Aid man style to the 1806 planning meeting in Long Island NY when our parks service decided to plant invasive honeysuckle as a bank stabilizing and wildlife food source. HINDSIGHT POLICE, CITIZEN ARREST!
Want to support Emily's work?
Spring has you thinking about your garden? Have you considered growing native plants? Native Indiana plants are best suited for the soil and weather conditions in our area. As a result, native plants require less fertilizer, fewer pesticides, and less water. Native plants are necessary for healthy wildlife populations and help prevent the spread of invasive, exotic species. Through their partnership with local Indiana Native Plant Nursery, Cardno, Indiana Wildlife Federation offers a variety of native plant kits, trees, shrubs and seed for sale. Learn more about our area's native plants, then check out the sale here! Your purchase supports IWF and Indiana’s native wildlife!