Randy Babb, Wildlife Viewing Program Manager, Wildlife Recreation Branch, Arizona Game and Fish Department
Babb’s main goal is to foster wildlife appreciation among the public. In order to do this, he and his team come up with opportunities for people to experience wildlife. This personal experience with wildlife (mostly with bats and other small wildlife species) creates a better appreciation, which ultimately leads to conservation efforts.
Babb’s job to foster community involvement in wildlife conservation is becoming increasingly difficult. This is partially a result of insufficient funding. Babb explained it is just him and one other fellow working in his department, and they do not have a lot of funds, so they make every dollar count. They largely do this through community-based education efforts. These include lectures, flier distribution, local media coverage of events and social media outreach. Additionally, Babb has partnered with the National Parks Service and the Forest Service to stage new programs on their property that promote community engagement in wildlife.
Working through these challenges is crucial for Babb. He explained that in today's gadget filled world, a lot of people don’t have a strong connection to wildlife. This means they have little incentive to promote and participate in conservation efforts. Through Babb’s work, he hopes to create avenues for the public to connect with wildlife, making the issue of conservation tangible and important to them.
Why the Job Matters
Wildlife conservation is necessary if we want our children and grandchildren to have the same or better opportunities to experience wildlife. Can you imagine if your great-great-great grandchildren didn’t know what a tiger was? Or if they thought Yellowstone was simply a yellow rock? Without Babb and his team creating ways for the community to engage with and see the importance of wildlife, these things could become realities.
How the Job Impacts Government
Babb explained that the mission of the Game and Fish Department is to conserve, enhance and restore wildlife resources. This mission, however, is much bigger than that of his department, he noted. At its core, the Wildlife Recreation Branch focuses on “fostering appreciation for wildlife that will hopefully lead to people getting involved with the department and conservation,” Babb said.
Babb is using technology to make his work relevant. He explained that recently, his department has set up wildlife cameras that livestream cool nature events that take place in remote areas of Arizona. These camera streams are critical because they broadcast Babb’s work to national and international audiences.