UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Kevyn J. Juneau, associate professor of conservation and environmental science, has been named 2023 Adviser of the Year. Juneau was formally presented with the award by UWRF Provost David Travis on August 28 during fall Opening Meeting.
Established in 2000, the annual award recognizes excellence in advising undergraduates. Nominations are made by current students and alumni and reviewed by the Faculty Senate Advising Committee, which makes the final selection.
Juneau joined the Plant and Earth Science Department in 2016, teaching classes in forestry and environmental sciences. In addition to advising some 50 students each year, he pursues research in invasive plant ecology and management.
Juneau became interested in the natural world while wandering the Adirondacks near his childhood home of Mooers, N.Y., just minutes from the Canadian border. The first in his family to attend college, Juneau enrolled at State University of New York-Plattsburgh where he received a B.S. in biology with minors in English and psychology. He then earned his master’s degree in entomology and nematology at University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in forest science at Michigan Technological University.
Juneau said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the teachers and mentors who guided him along his academic path. He said he is especially grateful to his high school biology teacher, Ed Kaufman, whose “passion and enthusiasm for the natural world were contagious” and to Ken Adams, his undergraduate mentor and research adviser, whose “unparalleled knowledge of the natural world [is something] I strive to achieve every day.”
Multiple award nominators commented on his friendliness, compassion, content and resource knowledge, connections, and advocacy.
One nominator, who entered the program after “a long hiatus from college life,” wrote that Juneau “takes time to listen to your career goals and really sets your path to be a clear and timely trajectory to graduation.”
Another wrote that he “has been there for me through every panic about classes. He supports me and tells me that we will get through it together.”
Alum Taylor Hill, who is completing her Ph.D. in the Integrative and Conservation Biology Department at University of Central Florida (UCF), said that when she first met Juneau as a sophomore, she revealed that she wanted to study coyote-wolf genetics.
“He said, ‘the sky’s the limit,’” she recalls. “Since that moment, Kevyn has been a supportive adviser, advocate, friend, and mentor along my circuitous journey from UW-River Falls to UCF.”
“Advising is a holistic process, and one that goes beyond registering for classes,” said Juneau. “Advising is something that everyone on campus participates in – custodians, program associates, administrators, faculty, staff. Everyone who works at UWRF is an adviser and is integral to student success.”
A major contributor to Juneau’s ability to be a compassionate and effective adviser is his attentiveness to diversity, inclusivity and belonging. He said it was his Ph.D. adviser, Catherine Tarasoff, who “enlightened me and drove me to a better advocate, professionally and personally, for those who are marginalized.”
This commitment is born out in various and fundamental ways both on and off campus.
On campus, Juneau served as both member and chair of the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. Nationally, Juneau is a member of the Society of American Foresters Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and an active participant in the Wisconsin Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Justice Community of Practice for conservation professionals.
Since 2017 (with a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic), Juneau has led a group of students to Andros Island in the Bahamas to help the local Bahamian Forestry Unit assist with tropical restoration projects. Juneau designed the program so that it was not cost-prohibitive and actively recruited low-income, first-generation students with limited experience traveling internationally.
Beyond his academic responsibilities, Juneau is active in the area’s conservation and sustainability community, serving on the board of the Kinnikinnic River Land Trust and City of River Falls’ Urban Forest Advisory Committee.