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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Throwing Open the Doors to Nature

Teaching archery at the Sigma Conclave. Photo courtesy by Phi Beta Sigma

I spent countless hours as a kid exploring national wildlife refuges with my three brothers while my dad worked. Those incredible opportunities left me determined to pursue a career in wildlife conservation – and fostered a lifelong love of the outdoors that I’ve passed on to my children.

More than four decades later, I’m in my dream job leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I doubt I’d be where I am if I hadn’t had those experiences as a kid.

But it’s troubling that some children don’t have access to the same types of experiences.

Dan Ashe
Dan Ashe welcomes Phi Beta Sigma members. Photo by USFWS

That’s why I am so proud of our work with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., to bring nature to young men of color.

The Service was a headlining sponsor of the Sigma’s “Conclave 2015: I Am My Brother’s Keeper,” and we worked hard at the Conclave to share the Service story with a sometimes-unfamiliar audience. I can tell you that we got as much out of this experience as we gave.

We’ve partnered with historically African American organizations Sigma and its sister organization Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in an effort to expand our engagement with African American families and children.

Studies show that kids who spend time in nature are healthier and happier, and have fewer issues in school.


A Week of Triumph and Tragedy

Fallen Rangers Virunga
Virunga rangers bury one of their own. Photo by Virunga.org

Last week marked an inspiring moment in conservation history, as the world’s attention focused on New York’s Times Square. There, surrounded by conservation partners from around the world and representatives of several governments, we crushed nearly all seized illegal ivory left in our possession after the first United States ivory crush in 2013.

If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch the video we’ve put together of this incredible event, which shined a global spotlight on the plight of Africa’s elephants – and the deep connection of the United States and its consumers to the illegal wildlife trade.

I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of this moment, but there is so much more we need to do.

Because the carnage continues.

Even as we took a giant step forward in New York, terrible news was filtering out of Africa. In Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a park ranger and two members of the Congolese armed forces were murdered by poachers just last week. A second ranger was injured in the incident. These three honorable men killed in the line of duty leave behind three wives and 12 children among them.

And in the DRC’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, two more rangers and 15 soldiers were killed last week in an ambush by two insurgent groups known to engage in poaching to support their activities. One, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), contains remaining members of Rwanda’s Hutu paramilitary forces who carried out the genocide of hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi countrymen in 1994.  


Going the Distance for Pollinators

This week (June 15 – 21) we are celebrating National Pollinator Week, and those amazing birds, bats, butterflies, beetles and more that mean so much to the food we eat and the land we live on. Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, talks about pollinator gardens.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved its Headquarters to a new building last summer, pollinators benefited.

Employees helped plan a native pollinator garden in front of our new Headquarters building with beautiful flowering plants to nourish native pollinators such as butterflies, bees, beetles and hummingbirds. We were careful to select plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season 

The pollinator garden at our HQ building. Photo by Rachel Sullivan/USFWS

Almost immediately, amid the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia, pollinators showed up seeking food and habitat. Some people even got to see a monarch butterfly stopping by the garden! 


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