Damon Lee Abernethy, Fisheries Development Coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF), recently graduated from the National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI), a non-profit conservation organization that is focused on addressing one of the nation’s most significant natural resource challenges, preparing and retaining conservation leaders.
According to the NCLI, almost one-third of today’s natural resource leaders are retiring. Research conducted in 2004 shows that about 77 percent of the states’ fish and wildlife agency senior leadership will retire by 2015, and more than half of federal conservation leaders even sooner.
“Training alone is insufficient to develop the extraordinary leadership called for in our uncertain times,” said Dr. Sally Guynn, Executive Director of the Institute. “The Institute is a unique, comprehensive learning experience designed to challenge assumptions, teach skills, facilitate high-trust networking, strengthen confidence, and prepare an extraordinary leadership capacity for the future.”
In the fall of 2010, Abernethy was one of 36 conservation professionals chosen from across the country to take part in the Institute’s eight-month leadership program, which includes an intense 11-day residency at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. During the program, each participant develops their own individual leadership projects and learns from some of the most influential conservation leaders and experts in the country including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government professor Marty Linsky, co-author of the book, Leadership on the Line.
“To be chosen among a nation of conservation professionals to take part in the fifth annual class of the Institute is a great honor,” said Abernethy. “The Institute was one of those rare lifetime experiences for me. Not easily comparable to other types of leadership development, it has had a profound impact on me.”
Abernethy began his career with the WFF in 2003, where he served as a Fisheries Biologist in District IV. In 2006, he relocated to the Montgomery office as a Reservoir Management Biologist. He was later promoted to Fisheries Development Coordinator in 2007 and continues to serve in that capacity where he oversees the Reservoir Management and Public Boating Access Programs for the Division.
The NCLI is supported by some of the nation’s premier conservation interests. Some current sponsors include: the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Boone and Crockett, the Pope and Young Club, Dallas Safari Club, The Campfire Fund, The National Wild Turkey Federation, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The Conservation Fund, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies among others.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .