Throughout his environmentally focused career, Dreux Watermolen has always maintained some kind of connection to Wisconsin Sea Grant.
He just waited an extra decade or two to make it official.
Watermolen, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’s chief of social science services, is the newest member of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s 12-member advisory council. He replaces Jennifer Hauxwell, who became Wisconsin Sea Grant’s assistant director of research and student engagement last November.
Watermolen grew up and earned his degrees—a B.A. from St. Norbert College, grad work at UW-Green Bay—in the Green Bay area, where he discovered his passion for the environment at an early age. His resume is dotted with Sea Grant connections: He spent time working closely with former Wisconsin Sea Grant staffer Vicky Harris, who was then with the DNR, on water-quality, habitat, and invasive species control issues in the bay and its surrounding areas. His DNR boss, Jack Sullivan, was a longtime member of the advisory council. And last summer, he participated with former Wisconsin Sea Grant outreach specialist Tim Campbell in the Great Lakes Briefs on Invasive Organisms Traded in Commerce conference in Milwaukee.
“It’s true, I’m a Johnny-come-lately in terms of actually joining the team,” said Watermolen. “But I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.”
Watermolen’s connections are only part of the reason the organization’s excited to add his expertise to the Advisory Council. Not only does he have a direct, non-nonsense style and an ability to grasp big-picture issues, but his DNR experience—he first began working with the agency in 1986—has exposed him to a list of areas that mesh well with Wisconsin Sea Grant’s research priorities. That list includes fisheries management, water resources management and invasive species control. Today, he manages a staff of 10 focused on social science and economic research, invasive species policy and science communications.
“Dreux’s extensive experience in managing social science research is a fortuitous fit for the new directions our agency has been pursuing the last several years,” Hurley said. “We couldn’t be happier to bring him into the fold.”
When he’s not working to promote science and protect Wisconsin’s environment, Watermolen’s devoting time to his antique and collectible sales business, where he sells items like vintage toys, old tools and collectible advertising out of an antiques mall in Madison. He said he sees some parallels between his professional and hobbyists lives.
“In any hobby, people are enthusiastic, energetic and looking to establish long-term relationships,” Watermolen said. “It’s the same principle I use in my day-job.”
Watermolen had to miss the latest round of Wisconsin Sea Grant preproposal reviews, but he’ll be on hand when the council reconvenes to offer perspective on the actual proposal review later this summer. Even with his expansive experience, there are parts of the Sea Grant portfolio that remain unexplored for him.
“I’m looking forward to learning about all the different projects Sea Grant has underway,” Watermolen said. “There are a lot of other folks whose work I haven’t been exposed to yet.”