When I got to Florida it did not take long to find a job. A local environmental consulting company, Biological Research Associates hired me to work on projects that needed wetland delineations and listed wildlife surveys. Most of the time, these jobs were required because the land was slated for development. Our job was to assist the client through the permitting process to be able to move forward with their development plans. While I am not anti-development in the least since I own a business that serves the building industry, Kemp 3D (more on this later), I wanted to work more in the conservation end of the field. I believe a balance can be achieved between development and conservation and it is up to all of us to find and maintain that balance!
In 2004 I landed what I thought would be my dream job as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). My job was to work with a brand-new team assembled to write the state’s first Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy – a monumental task that came with it a new federal grant program, State Wildlife Grants.
Our first plan consisted of all the threats we could identify to the conservation of 45 habitat types and 974 species of greatest conservation need, and the actions we could take to abate those threats. We covered freshwater, terrestrial and marine habitats and our species list was diverse – from sponges and corals to bald eagles and black bears!
In 2005, while I was still working full time for FWC, my wife Barbara and I launched Kemp Design Services, a full-service graphic design and web marketing company.
Barb would go full time with the company a year later, while I pursued my career with FWC and worked for the business after hours.
Owning a business while working full time created great conflict in me that lasted many years. On one hand, all I ever wanted to be was a wildlife biologist. And I had succeeded. Many of the people who go to college to major in Wildlife never make it into the field. It takes a lot of hard work and is highly competitive. But at the same time, working for a government agency has many draw backs. I am a very independent person and often found myself at odds with some of the politically motivated decisions made by the leadership of the agency.
As my career progressed, I found myself more and more complaining the agency did a very poor job at communicating to the public what we did, why fish and wildlife conservation is important, and why the public should engage. Be careful what you say, because I found myself with a new job – the Communications and Partnerships Coordinator for the program for which I worked. A year and a half later, it all came to a head. Stay tuned for the rest of the story!
Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and my story and thanks for visiting Kemp Outside. To read the first part of my story, click here! Kemp Outside exists to help moms and dads take their kids camping, fishing, hiking, learn about nature and develop a conservation ethic. We are your inside source for all things outside!