Science teacher to refuge manager
Join us as we welcome Ron Hollis to the Northeast Region! Ron is the new refuge manager at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia and comes to us from Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. Ron was a high school science teacher before he agreed to take the reigns at the nation’s 500th refuge in the Allegheny Mountains. Learn more about Ron and his goals for managing Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in this blog interview.
What is your professional background and experience with the Service?
I used to be a high school science teacher and I taught biology, physical science, chemistry, and life science. I was also a coach.
I began my career with Service as a trainee at White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. After that, I accepted a wildlife refuge specialist position at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama. There, I worked with my colleagues in the Service, and other federal and state agencies, to clean up a delicate ecosystem after damage from Hurricane Ivan, a category 4 hurricane. It was a great experience to see refuge staff work together with the community to clean up debris, conduct supplemental feeding, organize contracts to replant sea oats, conduct dune restoration, build the first handicap trail, construct several buildings, perform controlled burns and hold visitor events.
After that, I accepted the position as the deputy project leader at Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. There, I began to learn the importance of bottomland hardwood management through silvicultural prescriptions, moist soil management, biological studies, while managing personal and real property. Most recently, I’m moving from Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas where I’ve spent the last five years as the deputy project leader in charge of habitat management, public use services and other day-to-day activities.
What are your goals as the new manager?
My goals are to take time to pay attention and become familiar with the refuge, staff, partners, the local community and the overall area. I want to maintain strong communication within the Service, between our partners and members of the conservation community about the mission and objectives of the Service and Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I also hope to implement the objectives of our 15-year conservation management plan, where applicable, to address management alternatives and reach refuge goals.
Can you share a story about one of your greatest accomplishments at work so far? What you’ll bring from that experience to the refuge?
One of my greatest accomplishments at work is consistently focusing on “MEE.” That is motivating employees to continue to do their job amidst budget cuts, low staff levels and high workloads, and allow them to become better employees; equipping people with the tools, training, and time they need to complete their job; and encouraging people to continue to become better at what they do while functioning as an integral part of a team. Each one of us could talk about the successes that we have had but not without mentioning the people that contributed to that accomplishment. My plan is to continue to focus on “MEE.”
Anything else you want to share with the community?
I am excited to be a part of this conservation community and see firsthand the habitat that I will have the pleasure of working with. I want to be on the ground working with our neighbors to engage in meaningful conversation that leads to reachable goals. Being able to work with youth is something I want to focus on. My hope is to become a part of a great place to live, work and play!
Ron began working as the project leader at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge on August 18, 2014. He can be reached at Ron_Hollis@fws.gov or at 304-866-3858.