December 14, 2011

Matt Suuck

Matt Suuck displaying the latest in Minox hunting and sporting optics at a recent TRCP event.

Sport Optics Manager

MINOX USA

Twitter: @MinoxUSAHunting

Location: Claremont, N.H.

What is a favorite hunting or fishing memory?
When I was a kid my family rented a cabin for a long weekend in the mountains of western Maryland. My dad and I spent every day fishing out on the lake. We didn’t catch a lot, but those memories will stay with me forever. It was such a peaceful feeling to be out on the water, just my dad and I.

Tell us a little bit about your job at Minox. What are some things you like about the job and the company?
Minox has been around for 75 years and specializes in photography equipment, hunting optics and a wide range of binoculars. The company is not a large corporation and is privately owned; this gives us the ability to make good, solid and quick decisions. We have the ability to be very flexible and creative in adapting to the market. As a privately owned company, we are looking for long-term stability and are not solely focused on next quarter’s profits.

I’m responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing for hunting and outdoors products at Minox as they pertain to hunting and the outdoors. I do everything from managing our sales force and working on promotional items to working with the press.

How did you become passionate about the outdoors?
My parents were always taking me out fishing, hiking, exploring and sight-seeing. The great outdoors have been a part of my life since I was an infant. My parents would put me in the back of the Chevy, hook up the camper, and we would head out for an adventure. From the time I was little we would be out every weekend.

I went to college out West, and being out there shaped my passion for the outdoors immensely. My love and appreciation for the outdoors, hunting and fishing is such a huge part of why I do what I do today.

What role do you see the TRCP and Minox playing in the conservation arena?
Minox has always supported conservation issues both in Europe and the United States. We have an economic incentive to support conservation, but our interest in conservation goes beyond the economic bottom line. If we don’t invest in conservation, sportsmen won’t be able to hunt – they won’t have a place to go or game to harvest. If there are not any hunters, there won’t be a market for many of our products. At Minox, we believe that investments in conservation are not only the right thing to do, but they are of great importance to the overall economic stability in this country.

What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?
Loss of access and degradation of habitat are two of the most concerning issues facing sportsmen today. When I lived in places like Utah, Wyoming and Montana I could basically walk out my door and go hunting or fishing. It is a lot harder to find these opportunities now. A lot of the hunting lands are tied up, and you can’t hunt on Sundays where I live in Pennsylvania. These factors severely hamper our outdoor traditions. A lot of people see these restrictions and just say, “Why bother anymore?”

This is a major issue because sportsmen fund our core conservation programs here in the United States. Fewer hunters means fewer dollars for conservation – and the economy. On top of that, the government is slashing funding for programs that work to promote access.

Wherever I’ve worked I’ve pushed to get involved in conservation because I really believe in it. Minox has been a great partner in this. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the partnership that we are building with the TRCP and we at Minox are looking forward to continuing that in 2012 and beyond.

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November 14, 2011

Hal Herring

Freelancer

Conservation Writer, Field & Stream

How did you become passionate about the outdoors?

I have been fishing and hunting out in the woods since I was a young boy and have been hunting since I was nine. I’ve hunted and fished in some truly beautiful places. The more I’m out there, the more I’ve realized that these places are beautiful because they haven’t been torn up or developed. Since I had that realization I’ve always had a desire to give back to these places.

What led you to a career in conservation writing?

I began writing fiction in my 20s and then started journalism in my early 30s. When you write full time, it’s often hard to find the motivation. I learned that the only way I could keep my energy up was by writing about things that were inspiring to me. Nature and the outdoors have always been fascinating to me, so it’s been a truly natural fit for me.

What role do you see TRCP and particularly Field & Stream playing in the conservation arena?

Field & Stream is a publication for people who care about fish and wildlife, while the TRCP is an organization working to advocate for fish and wildlife. The fit has been a natural one as the TRCP and Field & Stream both bring awareness to similar issues.

In order for both the TRCP and Field & Stream to move forward, there needs to be an irrefutable positive link made between fishing, hunting and conservation. By working together, we can ensure that conservation becomes an integral part of the American mindset.

What do you think are the most important issues facing sportsmen today, and how do you hope your writing will bring awareness to these issues?

Getting more young people involved in conservation and the outdoors is an issue of great concern to me. It is important to draw young people into a deeper connection with nature. And it’s not just children; people in general need to be more connected to the outdoor world. These connections bring a greater awareness of the importance of clean water, habitat and conservation. Our natural world is incredible, and we need to nourish what is left.

October 14, 2011

Bill Klyn

Bill Klyn on left after a day in the field with his trusty dog, Bear, and outdoors writer, Todd Tanner. Christen Duxbury

International Business Development Manager, Patagonia

Jackson, Wyo.

From the time he was a little boy, to his current position with Patagonia, Bill Klyn has demonstrated an unparalleled passion for conservation and the outdoors.

How did you become passionate about the outdoors?

Growing up as a little boy in a small town outside Cleveland, I remember going to Lake Erie and seeing scores of dead fish that continually washed up on the beach. I was seven and even as a little guy, I remember thinking that something was wrong [with this]. I began fishing when I was 12 then began skiing and rock climbing not long after that. I always enjoyed time outdoors but it wasn’t until I took a six-week National Outdoor Leadership School course out in Lander, Wyo., that I realized how much these wild places really meant to me.

What led you to a career in conservation?

I moved out to Wyoming when I was 26 and it was there that I plugged into the conservation community. I was active in the fishing and hunting community through my part ownership of a fishing, hunting and outdoor sporting goods business. It was through this work that I saw how much sportsmen really invested in conservation and were willing to step up to the plate for the resources they cared about; through joining national and local non-profit organizations or rallying to support specific issues with hands-on work, donations and using their sphere of influence.

As a business owner, I saw that threats to our fish and wildlife resources in turn were threats to the sustainability of my business and the local economy. I couldn’t run my business without healthy streams and habitat. Nor could I pursue my personal passion for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.

What role do you see the TRCP and Patagonia playing in the conservation arena?

I still believe that educating and inspiring the public about the threats to our natural resources and offering them a call to action is the key. Bringing the concept of economic viability and sustainability to conservation, protection and enhancement will incentivize businesses, elected officials and end-users to become more involved to do the right thing. I think this is something that the TRCP is excelling at right now. The TRCP’s work uniting hunters and anglers with folks in the outdoor industry is a great example, and following these efforts we are seeing a powerful voice emerge around conservation issues.

So many times in the past we’ve seen groups divide and take sides on issues where we should be working together. How many hunters still think the folks at Patagonia are a bunch of tree huggers? We need to get past these notions and unite around the resources we care about. The TRCP has always been able to reach out and partner with a wide array of organizations. Patagonia looks forward to working with the TRCP to continue to bring these walls down.

What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?

Gaining an awareness of our water usage is critical. People have to realize that by the year 2025, human demand for water will account for 70 percent of all available freshwater. What does that leave for wildlife and habitat? We need to be thinking about this not only when we use water at home, but when we buy things. To make a pair of jeans, it takes 1,450 gallons of water – that’s enough to provide 58 people with water for a day. We need to look at our impact and take stock in what we are using and what is left for wildlife and habitat. Learn more at www.patagonia.com/environment.

Runaway energy extraction with the focus on next FY profits rather than a long term plan that takes into consideration wildlife and local populations is another key issue. There’s no denying we need to develop our domestic energy resources, but this can be done responsibly.

September 14, 2011

Dan Ashe

Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Photo courtesy of Tami Heilemann/DOI.

Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Location: Potomac, Md.

How did you become passionate about the outdoors?

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.

August 14, 2011

Vaughn T. Collins

Vaughn Collins and his hunting dog, Luna. Photo courtesy of Laura Fall.

Title: TRCP Director of Government Affairs

Location: Washington, D.C.

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.

Training Luna was a real joy, because she was bred to hunt and is a very smart dog. I trained her using only voice commands and positive reinforcement, and based my training on  “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners,” written by The Monks of New Skete. I also used “Water Dog,” written by Richard Wolters.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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