Veronica Runge is a South Florida native and a current land manager and wildlife specialist at the City of Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department. She holds a Master of Science in Biology with a focus on ecosystems-based management, conservation ecology, and animal behavior from Florida Atlantic University. She holds two Bachelor of Science degrees in both Biology and Psychobiology with a concentration in animal behavior and conservation biology from Florida Atlantic University. She started her career monitoring scrub jays and managing upland and wetland habitats for invasive plants at Johnathan Dickinson State Park and later interned with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s marine mammal office and later with the Commission monitoring threatened and endangered wading birds and managing coastal habitats including newly established Critical Wildlife Areas (CWAs) such as the Stuart rookery islands and Tigertail Beach CWA alongside the regional biologists. She then went to the Department of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (FDEP) where she conducted regional water quality sampling and habitat assessments which included invasive plant surveys and abundance estimates, and habitat restoration, with her team in the Southwest regional office (region- Kissimmee to Key West). Her last term position was with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service out of the Southwest Florida Refuge Complex where she worked primarily as the lead sea turtle and shorebird biological technician at the Ten Thousand Islands portion of the refuge. She surveyed coastal, upland, and wetland for biodiversity and invasive plants, and monitored songbirds, bats, and frogs on both the Ten Thousand Islands and at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
At the City of Sanibel, Veronica leads environmental permitting projects that include both mitigation and restoration of upland and wetland habitats while managing several plant and wildlife programs for the city including the Brazilian Pepper and Melaleuca Eradication Program and the Invasive Lizard Trapping Program. She has a very active role in plant identification, plant management, and restoration of the beach zones through the city parks and on private property through the coastal construction line dune trimming program (CCCL) furthering the department’s coastal resiliency goals. Veronica also is the program specialist for human-wildlife conflicts and leads the Wildlife Lighting Program and the Coyote Management Program. Veronica is the City’s marine mammal stranding coordinator and program bird biologist. She has a very active role in environmental education both locally and regionally and serves as the co-lead for the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) Symposium Planning Committee while serving on other invasive plant and wildlife regional committees as an advisor. Veronica loves dreaming up out of the box solutions to help people engage with their environment and support biodiversity. She has written and directed educational initiatives and including plant and wildlife brochures, developed signs using her artwork, and recently developed an animation video geared towards shorebird conservation. Veronica facilitates citizen science objectives and recently developed a website aimed to score wildlife encounters and reduce human-wildlife conflicts with coyotes.