I grewup in a small town in Vermont near Lake Champlain, and outdoor opportunities beckoned constantly. I had an uncle who was an avid sportsman, and he was my gateway to hunting and fishing. My uncle helped me buy my first firearm, a .410-caliber shotgun, and took me bird, squirrel, rabbit and deer hunting whenever possible. He loved ice fishing, and we did that together as well.
Q: What led you to your career in conservation?
That’s easy to answer – my time outdoors led to a passion for nature, wildlife and conservation. When I learned it was possible to go to college to study such things, my career path was clear. After I graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in wildlife biology, I began what would become a 26-year career with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. I have never regretted this career choice.
Q: How did you get involved with the TRCP?
I moved to Washington, D.C., three years ago to begin work with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. A large portion of my job duties focused on fisheries management. At some point, [TRCP Director of Policy and Government Relations] Tom Franklin asked me if I would chair TRCP’s Marine Fisheries Working Group, and I said yes.
Q: What do you think the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen are today?
Three issues immediately come to mind. The first one is habitat loss – development, energy transmission and climate change impacts are stressors of great magnitude on habitat quality. This in turn impacts the health, abundance and distribution of fish and wildlife resources. The second issue is access to hunting and fishing; habitat fragmentation, posted land and even competition for access on public land are making it difficult for hunters and anglers to get afield. Finally, state fish and wildlife agencies are the stewards of all fish and wildlife resources. The challenges facing these agencies are huge, and funding is stable at best. Sportsmen need to support new and broader funding for state agencies so our treasured resources remain sustainable and accessible in the future.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of the TRCP?
This is an important time for TRCP’s future, with the search for a new president and CEO. I look forward to serving on the TRCP board of directors to help shape that future and to define a conservation policy niche on behalf of hunters and anglers.