When I was older, I realized the alligators weren’t living in my back yard, but I was living in theirs.”
Jane Graham is passionate about protecting animals and the Everglades in her home state of Florida. As a result of her recent work at Vermont Law School, she has proposed a comprehensive federal law to curtail invasive and exotic animal species that are causing environmental, economic, and public health risks across the American landscape.
"Forget the war on drugs. What the United States needs is a war on invasive animal species," writes Jane in her article, "Snakes on a Plain, or in a Wetland: Fighting Back Invasive Nonnative Animals-Proposing a Federal Comprehensive Invasive Nonnative Animal Species Statute." Published in the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, the article was written with guidance from her master's thesis advisor, VLS Assistant Professor Pamela Vesilind '08.
Jane's advocacy for Everglades species isn't new. As a JD student at the University of Miami, she published an article on "Statutes with Sharp Teeth: Prosecuting a Crocodile Killing with State and Federal Statutes" (with Jonathan Tanoos) in the spring 2009 issue of the Florida Bar's Animal Law Committee Newsletter. At VLS, she worked on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) during her internship at the National Wildlife Federation's Northeast Regional office in Montpelier. At both schools, she was active in the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.
"What began with 'I want to write my LLM thesis on something to do with animal law' developed into a creative critique of invasive species law," said Professor Vesilind. Back in 2010, Vesilind predicted, "You heard it here first: Jane will be an influential and respected voice in the field of animal law." In addition to Jane's ESA work, her internship at the National Wildlife Federation included researching and writing complaints and portions of amicus briefs on the National Flood Insurance Program litigation, climate change, nationwide permits, the Clean Water Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. While in law school, she interned at the Miami- Dade Public Defender's office in Miami, The McGuirk Law Firm in Coral Gables, and the United States Attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.
"Jane was a standout LLM candidate who wrote a great paper in my course, got it published, and used it to land the job of her dreams working to conserve Florida's priceless and threatened natural resources," said Professor Pat Parenteau.
Jane now has a job working with Audubon of Florida as an Everglades policy associate. She lobbies state and local officials on water policy issues and Everglades restoration. Recently, Jane appeared in an interview on West Palm Beach CBS affiliate WPEC news to discuss the impacts of a proposed wind turbine project on endangered wildlife in the nearby Everglades.
"When I was a child in South Florida, alligators lived in the canals outside my house. When I was older, I realized the alligators weren't living in my back yard, but I was living in theirs," said Jane. "This job with the National Audubon Society is the exact realization of my goal when I started the LLM: a job with a wildlife nonprofit protecting and preserving the animals of the Everglades."