With experience from a large list of prestigious conservation associations under his belt, Bob Benson is taking on another challenge as the Executive Director for the Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF).
First off, what is the difference between the SCIF and Safari Club International (SCI)? In the words of the new executive director himself, “as SCI advocates, lobbies, and fights to keep hunters afield, the SCI Foundation provides the scientific backing of sound wildlife research allowing for pro-hunting regulations and policies to move forward for all sportsmen and women to benefit.”
Benson was born and raised in Grove City, Pennsylvania where he hunted whitetail deer and ruffed grouse on farms and the “big woods” of the Allegheny National Forest with his father and friends. That laid the foundations of his passion for the hunting lifestyle. In 1993, he moved to Austin, Texas to began his conservation career with Bat Conservation International. He has also spent time in Germantown, Tennessee working for Ducks Unlimited.
Read Outdoor Hub’s exclusive interview with Bob Benson below to find out more about his other hobbies, his partnership initiatives with African conservation organizations and his goal of global sustainable-use programs.
Outdoor Hub: What is your background?
Bob Benson: I have a B.S. in Communication from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, with nearly 20-years of wildlife conservation experience. I’ve had a variety of positions with four well respected conservation organizations with special foci on management, leadership, development and communication work.
OH: Can you elaborate on your experience in wildlife conservation and your role at SCIF?
BB: Throughout my career I have worked to improve a wide array of habitat conservation efforts. With previous conservation organizations I have focused on bats, waterfowl, colonial waterbirds, and game birds. I have been charged to raise the financial resources necessary for all the SCI Foundation’s programs, science-based conservation, wildlife education and humanitarian efforts.
SCI Foundation’s directors are ready to expand the brand of First for Wildlife to the far corners of the hunting community, and with my experience I know I can bring consistent growth to an already large and diverse conservation organization.
OH: Outside of the organization, what are some of your pastimes/hobbies?
BB: I have a serious passion for many, many types of outdoor recreation; hunting and fishing are my true passions and are a serious reason why I moved to Texas for my career. I also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, boating, and kayaking – or as you can tell, nearly anything outdoors. My wife and I also have three golden retrievers, and they seem to enjoy the outdoors about as much as I do!
OH: What are your personal conservation beliefs and goals?
BB: I believe that the U.S.-based North American Model for Wildlife Conservation is the preeminent system for wildlife management in the world. Through the years, the SCI Foundation has worked with partner countries in southern Africa to develop a similar model that builds the conservation funding mechanism jointly with the hunting and sporting community.
The SCI Foundation annually hosts the African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) and the 2012 AWCF will be held in Botswana. I believe the collaborative approach to bringing together government representatives, the professional hunter associations, the regional leaders, and conservation non-profits opens the doors to improving conservation that otherwise would never exist. SCI Foundation has truly pioneered this model and that is why they are the most respected conservation organization representing hunters in Africa today. Other organizations have never been success with such an ambitious goal of bringing so many “players” to the same meeting.
I tell you this background on the AWCF because I believe SCI Foundation will soon expand the AWCF to embrace more central, western and east African nations in its annual meeting. Secondly, the success of AWCF is not a one-off, flash in the pan. I know that SCI Foundation with our incredible staff can replicate the AWCF in other regions of the world with strong hunting cultures, including Europe, Asia, and South America.
OH: What initiatives will you tackle first?
BB: I will tackle strategic initiatives to continue to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of SCIF. Special focus will be placed on growing global sustainable use conservation programs through a wide array of creative development and communication strategies. I will work in concert with the board and staff to communicate why people should support the mission of SCIF.
OH: Have you participated in anything with SCI Foundation before your role as executive director there?
BB: I have not worked with SCI Foundation or SCI in the past, but with the organization’s strong presence in Texas, and around the country, I was excited to learn that I could possibly work with such a dedicated and focused organization for international conservation.
More information on the Foundation
The Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-deductible organization that promotes sustainable wildlife conservation and education by focusing on the positive role of the hunter in species management. The Foundation,
- offers financial support, expertise, and a network of researchers dedicated to global sustainable-use wildlife conservation projects;
- owns and operates two educational facilities, the International Wildlife Museum in Tucson, Arizona and the American Wilderness Leadership School near Jackson, Wyoming;
- and develop humanitarian initiatives through the wide array of international sportsmen and women who provide needed educational or medical supplies to economically underserved regions of the world.
Find out more from their website, www.SafariClubFoundation.org.
Or read about its conservation projects at http://FirstForWildlife.wordpress.com.
Image courtesy of Bob Benson/SCIF, Museum image from Chanel Wheeler (a rancid amoeba) on the flickr Creative Commons