Extension Wildlife & Fisheries Specialists Conferences


Date of this Version

June 1996


Published in W. Daniel Edge, ed. Proceedings of the 8th National Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialists Workshop: Educational Challenges for the 21st Century. [1996] Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University, 1998.


Extension Specialists are in a unique position to address what may become the most significant issue in professional fisheries and wildlife management in the last 50 years—the erosion of public support and confidence in government agencies to manage natural resources.

The fisheries and wildlife fields comprise a diverse community of professionals—biologists, managers, decision-makers, consultants, researchers, educators, and others. In this country, the foundation of our field is based upon the Public Trust responsibilities for wild animals. State and federal governments share the role of trustees.

Rural America faces a crisis in natural resource management. Natural resource-based economies have suffered with increasing costs and shrinking demand relative to their ability to produce commodities. Increasingly large numbers of agricultural producers are having a difficult time making the kind of living we have come to expect in contemporary America. Rural communities and cultures face extinction as local businesses struggle to compete with the "big boys." Expectations from government also have changed. New regulations and less support have helped change the onetime partnership between private landowner and government into an adversarial relationship. Now enter the fisheries and wildlife professional—representing the "common interest" in the fish and wildlife using private land or otherwise affecting private enterprise interests.