Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Working toward conservation on every level

We have always focused on the conservation of fish and wildlife for the benefit of the American people. Simply put, it’s our mission. Whether you’re a field biologist getting your boots dirty on a restoration project in the field or the administrative specialist who ordered those boots from back in the office, we all make conservation happen, every day and at every level of our organization.

These relatively small actions are cumulative and add up to remarkable feats when you take in the wide view of our work over time. Think of the ripple effect that one person can make across the landscape when they help lead others across an organization. On May 8, 2017, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley received the 2016-2017 Conservation Leader Award from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. “The University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point College of Natural Resources is extremely proud of the career and conservation accomplishments of Charlie Wooley,” stated Christine Thomas, Dean of the College of Natural Resources and nominator of Wooley as a candidate for the award. 

Christine Thomas presents Charlie Wooley with the 2016-2017 Conservation Leader Award. Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point College of Natural Resources.
Christine Thomas presents Charlie Wooley with the 2016-2017 Conservation Leader Award. Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point College of Natural Resources.

This award is bestowed annually to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to maintaining the integrity of Wisconsin ecosystems. Candidates are nominated by faculty in the College of Natural Resources and honorees are selected by the College of Natural Resources Dean’s Council.

Wooley, a Stevens Point graduate from the class of 1978, credits the pragmatic nature of courses at the college for his successful career which began as a fisheries biologist. His experiences assisting in graduate research projects through the Cooperative Fishery Research Unit were especially constructive. The applied sciences approach of Stevens Point is clearly evident in Wooley’s career, which is focused on tangible conservation actions across the United States.

Wooley’s career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started shortly after his graduation and included work as a fisheries biologist in Alaska, Florida, and Maryland. In Florida, his extensive work with striped bass and sturgeon in the Apalachicola River set the stage for recovery efforts of gulf sturgeon. While in Annapolis, Maryland, he focused on striped bass restoration in Chesapeake Bay and developed the Coastal Striped Bass and Sturgeon Tagging Program.

Shortly after these experiences, Wooley served as a program analyst in Washington, D.C., where he worked with the President’s Domestic Policy Council Interagency Task Force on Wetlands and the House of Representatives’ Merchant Marine Fisheries Committee. Wooley was responsible for the first written draft of the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which was enacted November 1990. The Act established goals for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs in the Great Lakes. It has since been reauthorized twice and proves to be a valuable conservation tool.

Wooley is grateful for his time on Capitol Hill, as it provided him with transitional skills directly relating to his current position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For eight years following his time in D.C., Wooley was the Field Supervisor at the East Lansing Field Office in Michigan. Afterward, he accepted a position as the Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services in Minnesota. In this capacity, Wooley oversaw endangered species, contaminants and wetland protection programs, as well as various Great Lakes and Mississippi River activities, including the Fox River/Green Bay Restoration Program’s $50 million investment in Green Bay.

Wooley was instrumental in the establishment of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and has served continuously as the Department of the Interior’s Trustee since 1997. The Trust has invested approximately $80 million in mitigation projects to restore the Great Lakes fishery. He also serves as our senior executive representative on the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is responsible for the $300 million funding received by the FWS for Great Lakes restoration projects.

Wooley has earned numerous accolades throughout his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1989 and 1992, he was named by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as one of 10 Unusually Outstanding Employees. In 2001, then Department of the Interior Secretary Gale Norton honored Charlie with the Department’s Meritorious Service Award, and was again honored in 2012 by then Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar with the Distinguished Service Award, the Department of Interior’s highest award. Wooley was chosen in 2014 by his peers for the prestigious Ira Gabrielson Award. Named after the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this award recognizes an individual within the Service that best exemplifies the leadership qualities demonstrated by Dr. Gabrielson during his 11-year tenure at the helm of the Bureau of Biological Survey, the precursor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Conservation Leader Award from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point College of Natural Resources is an incredible addition to this already impressive list that highlights a career dedicated to the preservation and restoration of habitat across the country.

By Monica Blaser
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: June 7, 2017