Doug Parsons discussed his experiences at UGA and beyond with Director of Development Lee Snelling.
Lee Snelling: What degree did you receive while at UGA?
Doug Parsons: Master's of Ecology (Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development) '00.
LS: What was your area of study?
DP: Environmental education in Costa Rica.
LS: How did your time in ecology prepare you for the world?
DP: I graduated from the Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development Master's program and it provided me with a solid foundation in both the tenets of experimental science, but also the real world application of environmental policy. Without a doubt, this experience at UGA provided me with the skill set to do my current job as climate change coordinator for my agency. All too often, scientists are not grounded in policy/human dimensions -- the UGA program provided that grounding.
LS: Who were your favorite faculty members?
DP: Laurie Fowler, Cathy Pringle and Ron Carroll.
I enjoyed taking classes from all three of them. Dr. Pringle was my thesis advisor. I did not have a traditional Master's Thesis and she provided ongoing encouragement. I especially enjoyed the Pringle lab, which provided an engaging (and fun) sounding board for the work I was doing. Environmental policy was actually my main interest and Laurie Fowler and her Etowah Practicum provided an opportunity to work on real world policy issues.
LS: What are you currently doing?
DP: I work for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as the climate change coordinator. FWC is the state's fish and wildlife agency. I work mainly on climate change issues for FWC. Climate Change has only become a focus area for us in the past couple of years, so it's been an exciting process to lead the agency into this new area of wildlife conservation. Prior to working at FWC, I did natural resource management planning in Brisbane, Australia.
LS: What are you most proud of since leaving UGA?
DP: I guess there are two things I am most proud of, work related. One, developing and getting funded, a sea level rise coordinator position for my agency. This will be the first of its kind for a wildlife agency. Second, I have developed a yearlong climate literacy course within our agency. There is tremendous interest in learning more about adaptation planning and this course will provide our scientists an opportunity to learn new things that weren't available when they were in school. And of course, my two young sons!
The Wildlife Society, Association of Fish and Wildlife Climate Change Committee
LS: What are the plans for the future?
DP: For the foreseeable future, I will continue to work on climate change issues in Florida. The issue is only growing exponentially in conservation circles and I look forward to working with the academic community on this important issue. Who knows, maybe we can even collaborate with students and faculty at the Odum School of Ecology! We have grant money and I highly encourage graduate students to begin working on adaption issues and basic climate research!
My two years at UGA were my most intellectually engaging and I can't stress enough what a great program the Conservation Master's program has been for me.