Faculty Spotlight: Mark Vrtiska

Mark Vrtiska
Mark Vrtiska

About you

I was born and raised in Beatrice, Nebraska. My interest in the outdoors came from my dad taking us fishing and hunting (including morel mushrooms). Received my bachelor’s degree here at UNL in Fisheries and Wildlife, and after some temporary positions working on various waterfowl projects, received my Master's at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY and then my Ph.D. at Mississippi State University.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

My position is Professor of Practice, Wildlife Management Specialist. I'm also the coordinator for the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership (TPCP). The TPCP is a program that assists with threatened/endangered least terns and piping plover populations and coordinates with the sand and gravel industry to minimize conflicts. I currently instruct four classes now. Two of them are wildlife techniques.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

Well, coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to go to college, and really didn't think about going anywhere else other than UNL. Plus, growing up in Nebraska during that time, I was already fully indoctrinated into Cornhusker football -- my first real memory is watching NU win the title in 1970. I wasn't really sure about what I wanted to do, but Fisheries and Wildlife was about the only thing that really appealed to me. I've always maintained that affinity to UNL (and the Cornhuskers), and have been, and continue to be, proud of obtaining my bachelor's degree here. It's a real privilege for me to be a part of the faculty here and think that I'm instructing courses now that I received back in the day. What a long strange trip it’s been...

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

The challenge of preparing students for the next step in their careers/lives. Interacting with students, staff and faculty is also very rewarding.

What research/outreach do you work on outside of the classroom?

The TPCP is actually a big research and outreach project. While I'm new and haven't contributed much at this point, the TPCP has produced some good research and information about least terns and piping plovers. Definitely want to continue to do that. But it's also a prime example of wildlife and industry working together to find solutions and minimizing conflicts. It's important to showcase this as such an example.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I read a lot about military history, if I wasn't in Fisheries and Wildlife, I'd probably be doing something along those lines. Also, when I travel, I hit the local grocery stores in search of mustards I have not tried before. Want to visit the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin one day.

What is your life like outside of work?

More and more, spending time with grandkids. I still like to go hunting, especially with my vizsla, Tessie. Taking grandkids on some of my hunting trips has changed what I do hunting now. Still like watching the Cornhuskers (its been tough at times) and college football, and I like visiting and talking with friends and family.