Meet Jamie Rappaport Clark: Defenders of Wildlife
July 6, 2011
Soon to be the President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, I had the opportunity, and pleasure of talking to Jamie Rappaport Clark this afternoon.
In October Jamie takes over as President of Defenders after a twenty year run by founder Rodger Schlikeisen.
Jamie was recruited some seven years ago to be his successor, and now it is her time. She certainly brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table, make no mistake about it. She has been Executive Vice President at Defenders since 2004, and before that she spent twenty years with the US Fish and Wildlife, and as Director from 1997 to 2001.
When asked what might change with her new position,Jamie stated, “I have been running Defenders along with Rodger now for the past seven years, and Defenders will continue to advocate strongly for the preservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat.”
Her approach might be slightly different as she described Rodger as more of the businessman, where she has an ecological background and will take a “best science approach.”
Jamie stated that ” even though there are only a staff of 150 at Defenders, I know Defenders inside and out, and everything is in place .”She reminded me that they are a 501(c)4 Organization, and as such, can engage in lobbying and political campaigning.
When asked about the Obama Administration
she admitted that she was “disappointed, but hopeful.” At this point in time I would have to agree that there just doesn’t seem to an alternative answer. I mentioned it might have been optimal if we could eliminate the Bush years and have gone directly from Clinton to Obama. Jamie agreed, and stated, ” the Bush administration found it easier to tear things down than to build things up.”
The Endangered Species Act is extremely important to Defenders of Wildlife, and Jamie told me, ‘”Just today Congress decided to stick their heads in the sand and said no more protection for endangered species near extinction. That’s Unacceptable! Basically, Congress is telling us that they condone extinction!”
Look for Defenders of Wildlife take Action on their website, www.defenders.org.
I asked her what can grassroots organizations do better for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and she said ,”Activism and education is so important, to keep doing that, but also continue to enlist others to engage.” She called this “most dangerous times for wildlife as we are living in an increasingly urbanized society.”
Just recently Suzanne Stone was involved in creating the” Livestock Compensation and Wolf Co-Existence Act” in Oregon, and being considered by Idaho. Jamie said this was a very encouraging step, Jamie feels that one day, through education, the ranchers, hunters, and conservationists will all get it , and wolves and other species will finally be allowed to assume their roles in the ecosystem as was meant to be. As Director of US Fish and Wildlife Jamie always encouraged landowners to voluntarily conserve wildlife, and this may be one step forward during very volatile times for wolves.
I also talked to her about two Defenders programs: Save a Species, and their Backpacks and Water Bottles Program. She and I both agreed that education is key. “Get the children outdoors, encourage them to explore.” As a Mom of an eleven year old she truly believes that the future for wildlife and wildlife habitat will be in good hands with the next generation. “They really do get it, “Here comes the Calvary!” Jamie exclaimed!
At National Wolfwatcher Coalition we are fully supportive of those same educational views and ideals, and are currently involved in starting a College/University Outreach Program for wildlife, and targeted primarily at wolves. Jamie liked the idea and reinforced education as the key, at home, in schools, and on campuses.
Good luck to Jamie as she takes on a role she already knows so well. Her passion for wildlife flows through her and it is encouraging to hear that compassion from the leader of the largest conservation organization in North America. We agreed next time to meet up in the field, perhaps Yellowstone, on a wolf watching trip with Nathan Varley of the Wild Side!
National Wolfwatcher Coailtion, Inc.
Understand, Love, Protect