T.R. established the first national monument on Sept. 24, 1906. Which monument was it?
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send the winner a TRCP hat. Congratulations to Todd Fearer from Christiansburg, Va., for answering last month’s T.R.ivia question correctly. The question: Who was T.R.’s choice to succeed him as president of the United States? The answer: William Howard Taft.
I love to do anything outdoors, from scuba diving to hunting or fishing. My grandfather was a hunter, and my brothers and I would go out with him every winter. All those memories, from the howling beagles to the rabbits we hunted, have become interwoven with who I am.
What led you to a career in conservation?
My dad worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service, and we would follow him around, moving throughout the South. Part of my desire to get involved in conservation was that I wanted to be like my father a bit. I’ve always really liked science, and growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist. I studied biology in college and, after graduating, received a National Sea Grant Congressional Fellowship that allowed me to move to Washington, D.C., and gain experience on Capitol Hill.
What were some valuable lessons you learned on the Hill?
I got to meet lots of people in the conservation community. On Capitol Hill you learn how to make lasting relationships with people because one day you are working with a person and the next day you are working against them. My time there taught me to unite people even when there are many different perspectives and places from which people are approaching an issue. What’s more, I learned that conservation policy is not always about science. There is almost always a political dimension to an issue.
What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?
Climate change is a huge issue, not only now but into the future. Biologists, sportsmen and outdoor recreationists experience the effects of our changing climate in everything from insect infestations to changing snowpack to variable soil moisture to atypical stream and river runoff. Climate change is one of the most consequential things for people living in our time to come to grips with, and we need to work to understand it better.
The global population and the population of the United States are skyrocketing. This is creating an increase in resource consumption. There are more people using more resources, leaving less space for our fish and wildlife resources. We need to figure out ways to take care of these resources and manage them responsibly.
What are some things you hope to accomplish during your time as director of the Fish and Wildlife Service?
I am excited about building new alliances around issues we are faced with. I hope to unite people around a set of shared objectives. The last time the conservation community all united like that was back in the ’60s, and substantial progress was made. I want to see something like that in this time period.
Q: Talk about your work at Ducks Unlimited. Why are partnerships between sportsmen’s groups like Ducks Unlimited and the TRCP important?
I was with Ducks Unlimited for five years as director of public policy, where I lobbied for wetlands conservation in Congress and worked with federal agencies and conservation groups to promote federal programs in fish and wildlife issues. The TRCP was always a valued partner when I was with DU. The sporting partnerships and coalitions that TRCP builds in the hunting and fishing community are critical in promoting a variety of conservation and access issues.
Q: What led you to your career in conservation?
I have always been an outdoorsman, sportsman and conservationist. My education was focused on resource issues and economics, so a career in conservation policy was a natural choice. The turning point of my career was when I moved to Washington, D.C., and took a position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and thereby had the opportunity to focus on national rural development and conservation issues.
One of my duties while at USDA was to manage the Truman Internship Program. The Truman Scholarship is memory of President Truman and is awarded to more than 50 of the best and brightest college seniors from across America. USDA was responsible for supervising the internships of eight to 10 Truman scholars each year. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with these future leaders.
One of the highlights of my career in conservation was working as the chief of the Federal Duck Stamp Office at the Department of the Interior. In that role I headed one of the most successful conservation programs in the federal government. Each year the Duck Stamp program raises more than $25 million – 90 percent of which goes directly toward the acquisition of critical habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Anyone who hunts waterfowl needs to purchase a federal duck stamp as it helps maintain the strong conservation tradition of hunters in America.
Q: What do you miss about living in Vermont?
I don’t miss the D.C. traffic for one, but mostly the natural beauty and living in a rural town where most people know each other. My wife and I have a small house on a hill in the Champlain Valley that is surrounded by 1,200 acres of land protected by conservation easements. We overlooking Lake Champlain and have views of the Adirondack Mountains in New York and Vermont’s Green Mountains. The view is beautiful beyond belief.
Q: What do you love about your job?
I love working for a small organization. It gives me the ability to interact with senior-level staff both on Capitol Hill and in the administration. The transition to TRCP was made easy because of my tenure in the D.C. office of Ducks Unlimited. I especially enjoy building and maintaining relationships with members of Congress and other policy makers for the benefit of conservation. This is the type of job where you can really make a difference.
Q: Why did you choose to work for the TRCP?
As an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing, I really wanted to stay within the sporting community. Because of the strong partnership Ducks Unlimited has with the TRCP, this position as director of government affairs seemed like a great fit for both me and TRCP. It has proven to be a great choice, and the transition has been smooth because the work is very similar to what I did while at Ducks Unlimited.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish for the TRCP?
I hope to strengthen TRCP’s ability to work with partners in the sporting community and beyond and leverage these relationships and coalitions to keep conservation policy a priority in Washington, D.C. I want to use my position at TRCP to help ensure that quality fish and wildlife habitat remains for future generations of sportsmen to enjoy.
Q: Tell us about your dog, Luna. How hard was it to train her to be a hunting dog?
My wife and I got Luna from a highly respected kennel in Virginia, and I trained her myself. She is a titled American Kennel Club hunt dog, and is a great family pet as well. She’s named Luna (Spanish for moon) because she was born on a blue moon in November 2001. Luna is the second chocolate Lab that I have had the pleasure of owning.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.