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U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Recipient of Presidential Rank Award



March 26, 2004

Christine Eustis, 404/679-7287


Each year a very select group of senior federal executives who have achieved extraordinary results and sustained accomplishments over an extended period of time are singled out for special recognition via the Presidential Rank Award.

This year’s notables include Sam D. Hamilton, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director.

Hamilton was recognized for his long-term commitment to leading change and people, his results-driven business acumen, and his dedication to building long-term coalitions through effective communication with Stakeholders, as well as federal, state and local agencies.

“Receiving this recognition from the President is truly an honor,” Hamilton said, “but more importantly, I think it also reflects the dedication and support I have and continue to receive from the 1,400 Service employees throughout the Southeast Region.”

A native of Starkville, Mississippi, and a career Service employee, Hamilton is responsible for overseeing the management of 120 national wildlife refuges comprising more than 3.2 million acres, 14 national fish hatcheries, 5 fishery assistance offices, and 16 ecological services field offices in 10 Southeastern states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

One of Hamilton’s notable accomplishments includes championing the innovative concept of sequestering carbon dioxide gas on national wildlife refuges by planting native, hardwood trees. The agency has partnered with major power companies throughout the Southeast to replant wildlife refuges in native hardwoods that provide carbon credits to the companies and increases habitat for wildlife. The application of this concept continues to serve as an important example of the public and private sectors joining together to create win-win results in the real world environment.

“Today’s tight government budgets coupled with increasing Stakeholder demands for effective results have made coalitions and partnerships not just good business,” Hamilton said, “but essential tools for successful natural resource management.”

Hamilton’s effectiveness at creating external partnerships is also reflected in his success in building and maintaining a workforce that is diverse, well-trained, highly motivated, and productive. Through his annual Regional Director’s Honor Awards Program, he has leveraged the capacity of Service employees and others to build a shared vision, align support of that vision, and motivate and encourage all employees and outside partners to work collaboratively to produce significant results.

“I continue to be awed by the resourcefulness and dedication of the employees I have the privilege to lead,” Hamilton noted. “From the refuge employee responsible for maintaining our national wildlife refuges, to the fisheries biologist working to restore fish habitat, to the human resource officer helping us hire the best and brightest, every one of these individuals plays a significant role in conservation and makes my job not just easier, but also rewarding.”

Hamilton’s results-driven business insight has led the Service’s Southeast Region into the new millennium as a national leader in applying innovative ideas and leveraging technology to achieve outstanding results. Through the use of advanced geographic information systems, Service employees throughout the Region are able to make faster and more strategic decisions in prioritizing conservation activities.

Additionally, Hamilton has actively encouraged field offices to use information technologies and the World Wide Web to provide Stakeholders and the general public with access to information on Service missions, programs, activities, volunteer opportunities, media releases, and significant agency actions.

“Current and accurate information is critical to making conservation management decisions,” Hamilton said, “but it is just as important in communicating our efforts and decisions to our Stakeholders and publics. Internet-based web sites offer a phenomenal opportunity to leverage technology to get our messages and information out to a broad range of people at all levels of society.”

According to the citation accompanying the award package, Hamilton’s innovative leadership and management efforts combined with his partnership approach to problem solving have won him the respect and admiration of his peers in the public and private sectors.

Hamilton received his award at a White House ceremony on Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Southeast Regional Director Sam Hamilton (center) with Interior Secretary Gale Norton (left) and Judge Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (right) as he receives Presidental Rank Award.
Southeast Regional Director Sam Hamilton (center)
with Interior Secretary Gale Norton (left) and Judge
Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife,
and Parks (right) as he receives Presidential Rank Award.
Photo by Tammy Heilemann.


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