Rising Star: Jared McGovern

Jared McGovern

curator of conservation programs at National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

Jared McGovern’s passion for conservation led him to create a department at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

McGovern started with the river museum as an education intern in 2005. Six years ago, he was hired as the curator of conservation programs at the museum.

“During our recent Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation process it became clear that the AZA’s conservation identities were evolving. Many leaders in our field have long focused conservation efforts outside the walls of their institutions and beyond wildlife. We recognized a need to look outside our institution,” McGovern said.

Jody Pfeiffer nominated McGovern for Rising Stars.

“Jared demonstrated leadership in business by not only creating his own department, but excelling in that department,” she said. “He works to constantly inspire, motivate and encourage those both at his place of work and other companies throughout Dubuque to push people to be the best version of themselves.”

McGovern has loosely built his work around the REEF model: Respect always; engage others often by being transparent and awarding responsibilities; experiment, take risks — no one has ever accomplished anything truly unique that was afraid of failure. Failure is a learning opportunity; and fun, having fun is a priority. Help others find their purpose and they will be fun, engaged, happy and hopeful in their work.

McGovern represents the River Museum in many national, international, regional and local conservation networks and affiliations. He also builds partnerships and relationships with others in the community and throughout the Mississippi River Watershed who are also dedicated to inspiring stewardship of rivers and, by extension, the oceans the rivers reach.

He also works with urban pollinator habitat creation and advocacy through the Monarch SAFE Network and inspires stewardship of rivers through freshwater mussel conservation engagement and research.

McGovern volunteers his time to serve on boards, helps the City of Dubuque with cleanups, and volunteers his time with the Dubuque Community School District, Mines of Spain Recreation Area, Good Neighbor Iowa and Dubuque County Conservation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when the River Museum was closed to the public, McGovern produced videos about ways to explore nature in our backyard and surrounding area.

McGovern and his wife Morgan McGovern are parents to Frederick, 2, and have another river-steward-to-be arriving in August.

“In the past two years I found motivation from my son. Having the opportunity to introduce him to the outdoors, watching him grow an ethic within him that values a connection with his environment gives me so much hope and proves to me every day that my work matters,” McGovern said.