We saw her on a YouTube video, frying up a mess of frog legs for “CookIN’ Gone Wild.” Michelle Cain, Wildlife Information Specialist with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, appears regularly in the Division’s video series that features her in the kitchen after a successful trip afield or on water somewhere in Indiana.
We started corresponding with her and thought you’d like to meet her, too.
The WON: Name, rank and serial number, please.
Michelle: I’m 32 (Shhh!), married, with a two-year-old son. I have a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Aquatic Biology and Fisheries Management, both from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. My love for the outdoors came from my childhood growing up on a lake.
The WON: Also, how did you train for your present job at the Indiana DNR? We think a lot of women would like to know more about the opportunities in outdoor fields, such as yours.
Michelle: My degrees are listed above. I really liked biology and science in general. I also love being outdoors and wanted a career that would allow me to be outdoors. I took every opportunity I could to learn more – internships, working with graduate students, going to professional organizations such as the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society as places to meet professionals in this field and pick their brains. I started out as an assistant fisheries biologist in southern Indiana 7 years ago, and took a promotion to this position a year-and-a-half ago.
The WON: What do you really like about your job?
Michelle: I love the creativity that this job affords. I get to interact with the public through social media, come up with new ideas for marketing, and getting our message out and of course the hunting and fishing during the normal work day is a huge perk. I never thought, I’d actually be able to do that!
The WON: Also, the video series on YouTube that features you cooking up wild game? Was that your idea and how did it come to fruition?
Michelle: I love to cook and to be outdoors so it was a natural fit for me. It started as a result of being on a local morning show, “IndyStyle,” and doing a wild game cooking segment on that show. From there, I talked to our videographer about the series and we started to develop it. We started filming just the cooking segments in my kitchen. I then decided that we should start filming the entire process from field to table. I’d been really wanting to try frog gigging and talked to one of our property managers about it, so we set out to do that on opening day at midnight. It turned out great, and now we will be doing the series as field to table as much as possible (doing an episode every other month instead of monthly).
The WON: So, you’re learning to hunt and fish (and gig) while you’re doing this series?
Michelle: Yes, I was already an angler and deer hunter before starting this series. I decided I really wanted to venture out and try new types of experiences. I didn’t grow up hunting and really didn’t have anyone to teach me. So, each episode highlights my hunting/fishing mentor and how they’re helping me try out a great new outdoor sport. I love it and we get to highlight our wonderful staff as well. So far, I’ve frog gigged, dove hunted and squirrel hunted on camera.
The WON: What have been some of the best moments so far?
Michelle: My favorite moment so far was during our dove hunt this September. I had never shot anything on the wing before, never shot skeet or really anything that hasn’t stopped before I shot at it. It was quite a challenge, but when I was successful and harvested my first dove, the feeling of accomplishment and joy can’t really be described. It was awesome! I can’t wait to go again and I just loved having the dogs there to retrieve for us. It added that level of camaraderie and bond that Ron has with his dogs. I got a chance to hunt and make a great new contact that would love to take me out hunting again.You can’t beat that!
The WON: Do you watch foodie shows on TV?
Michelle: I do. I love watching shows that highlight the person’s life as well as the cooking. Someone with a great personality and story can really add to the cooking. One of my favorites to watch is “Extra Virgin,” on the Cooking Channel. The relationship between Debi and her husband is great and you can tell they really love to cook together. I also like “Bizarre Foods” – travel, plus regional food – how can you not love that?
The WON: What’s next in the video lineup?
Michelle: We are currently filming squirrel hunting and just finished up dove hunting. We have a deer hunt in the works as well as goose hunting.
The WON: What do you like to do when you’re not hunting for your next meal?
Michelle: I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a son who loves to be outside and explore. I’m always teaching him about insects, ducks and pretty much anything we see. He pretty much takes up most of my time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.