By Laird Hamberlin
Last week, Aurelia Skipwith faced her confirmation hearing to be the Director of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works after being nominated by President Trump. Ms. Skipwith, who currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, is an ideal candidate to lead the agency responsible for much of U.S. conservation efforts and I sincerely hope the Senate will recognize her outstanding qualifications by confirming her.
Before joining the Trump administration, Ms. Skipwith not only spent six years in the private sector but also spent time in the U.S Department of Agriculture and USAID. Her undergraduate degree comes from Howard University, and her other academic qualifications include a law degree from the University of Kentucky and a M.S. in molecular biology from Purdue University.
In her confirmation hearing, Ms. Skipwith concentrated on her passion for protecting America’s wildlife refuges, which she referred to as our nation’s “crown jewels.” Indeed, her focus on the importance of working with private landowners to find conservation solutions aligned with the best available science will ensure “all lands stay productive for all the species and for the people that own them.”
Since first joining the Trump administration, Ms. Skipwith has also garnered the respect of prominent conservationists, federal agency personnel, and members of Congress. Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt said “Aurelia is a leader within the department who has helped us execute our initiatives as outlined by President Trump.”
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker and a nonpartisan organization, also sees Ms. Skipwith as an excellent choice for USFWS Director. NFWF Executive Director and CEO Jeff Trandahl, who has served the NFWF since 2006, said Ms. Skipwith “has brought an incredible corporate background to the workings of the Department and we look forward to her leadership in joining the USFWS. She has a unique understanding of the value of public-private partnerships as we work to resolve complicated environmental and wildlife issues.” Similarly, SCI has seen the conservation successes brought by public-private partnerships in the U.S and abroad. We are excited to see the FWS position themselves to ensure those successes continue.
Ms. Skipwith’s appointment has also received bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Representative William Lacy Clay, a Democrat active on the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced Ms. Skipwith at her hearing and praised her as a “one of the most talented, hardest working and driven persons that I have ever known… with a keen insight into policy and passion for science.”
With glowing endorsements from America’s leading conservation officials and bipartisan support in Congress, Ms. Skipwith represents a new USFWS that is committed to implementing balanced land use to mutually benefit America’s sportsmen and the needs of our critical habitats and endangered species. Safari Club International eagerly awaits her swift confirmation in the Senate, and we hope that all Senators can put partisan politics aside to do so.
Laird Hamberlin is the CEO of Safari Club International