Managing the Outdoors - Black Enterprise

Managing the Outdoors

Shannon Smith (Photo: Greg Stutzer)

Current position: Project Leader, Kaua’i National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Hawaii

Responsibilities: Smith oversees three refuges: Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, a 917-acre bird sanctuary; HulÄ”‘ia National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for endangered wetland birds; and 203-acre KÄ«lauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which averages 500,000 visitors a year.

Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Wildlife Biology, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California

Skill set: Smith manages budgets and interactions with organizations such as utility companies and research agencies. Operating as a liaison and mediator in environmental matters, Smith also understands environmental regulations. “Wildlife management is much, much more than managing wildlife. Most times you’re managing people and the things you want or don’t want them to do.”

Professional strengths: “My ability to understand the intricacies of programs, communicate well, and problem solve.”

Advice to those considering the field: “Go to a good school that will provide a foundation in wildlife management, wildlife biology, or conservation biology, to understand basic ecological and scientific principles.”  Although refuge managers are required to have a science-based degree, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ( within the Department of the Interior has a broad range of global opportunities in areas such as law enforcement and resource management.