People profile: Baker Holden III

A conversation with Lodi Fish and Wildlife Office’s Deputy Project Leader

two men woking at a fish hatchery.

Baker Holden, top, works on a raceway at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS


By Peter Pearsall
August 27, 2020

You’ve worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and this is your second stint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Why did you come back?
I like the mission, and I found the culture was welcoming and one I could thrive in. I saw opportunities here because it’s all about what you do and what you can bring as a person. They’re making a big effort to support diversity, talk about it openly and take concrete steps to move forward.

What is special to you about the Service's mission?
People know the Service lists endangered and threatened species, but we also do oil spill response, we manage invasive species, and this is where the national fish hatcheries are held. There’s variety to the mission, and all of it converges around protecting natural resources for future generations.

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“Be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect and dignity,” said Holden. “That’s a goal I strive for personally.” Credit: USFWS

How did you get interested in becoming a biologist?
I used to go fishing and hunting with my father and uncle when I was growing up in Arkansas, and I’d get a comparative anatomy lesson from my father on the fish and squirrel and rabbit, and also learn the importance of balance: Only take what we need. When I got to college, I had a temporary job with the U.S. Forest Service in Gasquet, California, which was a great experience. I learned something new every day and experienced new things. It was the first time I’d snorkeled and learned how to identify fish and salamanders, the first time I went camping. It had me hooked.

How has your career path influenced your approach as the Lodi FWO’s deputy project leader?
The job I have now was not in my perspective of life opportunities as a teenager. So, I’m developing a program to reach out to people about opportunities working in natural resources. We do events locally, where we try to provide individuals a first-time positive experience with natural resource activities, particularly individuals who might not have thought of it as a career option before. One example was a program earlier this year, when our biologists worked with Riverview Middle School students to help them sample river water and conduct measurements and experiments.

What advice do you have for young people starting out in the Service?
Be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect and dignity. That’s a goal I strive for personally. But the federal service is also more connected than you know, and it comes around. If you have a long career in the federal service, you never know who’s going to be your boss.

Baker Holden III grew up in West Helena, Arkansas, a small town in the heart of Delta Blues country. While earning a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, he worked summers for the U.S. Forest Service on what is now Smith River National Recreation Area. He has since worked in natural resource management at several California sites as well as in New Mexico, Oregon and Washington state. He and his wife, Laura, married in 2002 and have two children, 11-year-old Samara and 6-year-old Graham. Baker is also a singer and “very so-so guitar player” who collects video games and comic books, and enjoys fishing, nature watching and knitting.

 

a man sitting at a desk

Peter Pearsall

About the writer...

Peter Pearsall volunteered with the External Affairs office in Sacramento, California in the Spring of 2020. He now works as a Biological Technician for the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.