Melissa Wallace

Melisa Wallace and her partner, a K-9 dog named Auburn

Hometown

Dunkirk, N.Y., currently living and working in Philadelphia, Pa.

Degree programs

B.S., Environmental Science

Year of graduation

2004

Place of employment

Department of Homeland Security - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Job title and work responsibilities

CBP Agriculture K-9 Officer

I work with my partner, Auburn, a beagle, at the Philadelphia International Airport. Our job is to search for prohibited agriculture items such as fruits, vegetables, meats and plant materials in luggage and carry-on bags that people bring into the United States from foreign countries.

How my career relates to my degree from RIT/NTID

I always was interested in the environment and in animals as I was growing up so, when I got to RIT, I majored in Environmental Science. Studying biology and chemistry, specifically, and environmental science in general helped me develop the right skills and gave me a strong background in the field. My education prepared me for a wide variety of career opportunities. My co-op gave me some real world experience that I could use on my resume. I originally started as an Agriculture Specialist doing food inspections on cargo that arrived in the United States by air or by sea. We would look for pests such as insects and plant diseases. Working with animals as partners gives K-9 officers a higher chance of detecting prohibited food or plant items in people’s baggage. What we do together helps prevent the spreading of exotic pests and diseases that might threaten the American farming industry and our native plants.

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