Toward a More Inclusive and Welcoming Agency Culture: Meeting the Challenge of Increasing Workforce Diversity in Natural Resource Agencies

Wed, March 11, 2020, 10:00 am - Wed, March 11, 2020, 12:00 pm


Davia Palmeri, Conservation Policy Coordinator, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Melanie Steinkamp, Environments/Status & Trends Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey
Judy Camuso, Commissioner, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

The cultural norms and priorities of natural resource management agencies have been shaped by factors and priorities that have not proportionally evolved with the demographics and resource management preferences of the Nation’s culture and vision. Americans, as a culture and population, have shifted in many ways; we have become far more urban, our values related to wildlife have changed, and our preferences for outdoor recreation have expanded. Fish and wildlife are now grappling with these changes while also facing increasingly complex threats created by human population growth, development, infrastructure needs, urbanization, and climate change.

Struggling under the mounting pressures created by these changes, agencies now find themselves facing an uncertain future. The need for the conservation community to be relevant to a broad constituency has never been greater. Greater workforce diversity will be an asset as agencies look for creative ways to manage the threats to wildlife. Recognizing that any conversation about workforce diversity benefits from an intersectional approach, this session will serve as an entry point to the overall challenge of an inclusive, welcoming culture. Presenters will provide an overview of this fundamental problem and discuss multiple efforts, such as the recently adopted Relevancy Roadmap and the National Conservation Leadership Institute’s Cohort 13’s Welcoming Culture Group. Examples will be offered demonstrating how the challenges to a welcoming and inclusive culture are exhibited within agencies. Finally, practical strategies will be offered to begin to shift the paradigm and move toward an inclusive, welcoming culture where diversity in all forms is valued and supported.