Choosing A Conservation Vocation or a Bureaucratic Career
Personal Choices and the Environmental Consequences
Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
BOOK REVIEW Dr. Gene Huntsman, NMFS Research Biologist, Retired:
“The book is just like Kroger himself: unambiquously honest, refreshingly sincere, earthily plain-spoken. If I had students I would have a copy or two around to introduce them to the real gritty world of life on the frontlines of resource protection.” Jim Posewitz, MT G&FD Biologist/Supervisor, Retired, and author of “Beyond Fair Chase”:
“In Kroger’s work we are treated to the tragedies and triumphs of an individual whose conservation ethic could not be compromised to political expediency. It is an alarm telling us that our natural resource management systems are infected with political corruption and bureaucratic expedience. Read this book, but more importantly, let it inspire you to take action in defense of the American conservation ethic and those hardy souls still out there working in the people’s interest.” Tony Dean, Producer of “Tony Dean Outdoors” TV series and “Dakota Country Backroads” radio shows:
“I have covered state and federal natural resource agencies in the Upper Midwest for more than three decades and agree with Kroger’s assessment that there are two types of biologists – conservation vocationists, or as my friend Ted Williams calls them, ‘sticklebacks,’ and bureaucratic careerists. Kroger’s book pulls no punches and is a good read for anyone who cares about the outdoors and the proper management of our natural resources.” Wayde Schafer, Sierra Club Regional Representative:
“What also comes through in the book is the mischievous delight he experienced when he ‘got’ a bureaucrat or a politician. I’m better at what I do because I had the privilege of tapping into that wisdom while working on environmental campaigns with him. This book offers the reader an opportunity to also tap into that wisdom.” Chuck Neal, BLM Soil Scientist, Retired and author of “Grizzles in the Mist”:
“Powerful… Credible…Inspirational…This book should be required reading and discussion material for all those in and entering the natural resource conservation fields.” Jeff Denton, BLM Biologist:
“Let Kroger’s impeccable ethics and courage during his lifelong commitment to responsible conservation of our incredibly rich and under appreciated natural resources inspire you and serve as a gauge for assessing your own dedication. It also lets dedicated individuals know they are not alone in their frustrations, the world is a better place because of their noble choices, and how to find the courage for perseverance.” Felix Smith, FWS Combat Biologist/Supervisor, Retired:
“Kroger coined the term ‘Conservation Vocationists’ to identify those professionals dedicated to proper natural resource management on a 24/7 life-long basis versus ‘Bureaucratic Careerists’ who work 8-hour days in the field of conservation but are motivated mostly by their own selfish goals of achieving more money, power, and prestige.” Mike Olson, FWS Missouri River Coordinator:
“The book provides an excellent opportunity to those of us mid-way through our professional careers to renew our commitment to an environmental ethic. Kroger’s perspective provides an inextricable linkage between the decisions made while on the job to those long-term consequences on the landscape.” Bill Bicknell, FWS Biologist:
“His life-long conservation commitment, willingness to take risks, work ethic, and book are truly inspirational. He presents important insights about the workings of government agencies, what makes their employees tick, and highlights productive ways to address bureaucratic pitfalls that prevent implementation of beneficial fish and wildlife projects.” Jim Guthrie, NMFS Fisheries Technician, Retired:
“From the personal history presented in his book, it is obvious that Kroger went on being Kroger wherever he went.” Rick Morat, FWS Biologist, Retired:
“I was left with a compelling case-for-action that every individual needs an understanding of personal mission to keep ‘first things first.’ It contains some of the most balanced and level-headed advice I have received. Reading this clearly written and simply stated book will draw the reader into an introspective evaluation of his/her life with an emphasis on the future.” Tory Taylor, Past President of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and Budweiser Outdoorsman of the Year in 2000:
“Dick Kroger’s ‘Choosing a Conservation…’ is a message that needs to be told over and over again. The lessons in this book are invaluable for conservationists, young and old, to learn how to negotiate the maze of obstacles and achieve one’s life goals in natural resource conservation.” Meredith Taylor, Greater Yellowstone Coalition 20th Anniversary Award Winner:
“In his book, he gives great insight into how he not only survived, but succeeded in his career as a conservation vocationist.” National Wildlife Magazine:
“In it, he encourages all natural-resource agency employees to view their lives’ work as vocations rather than just personal careers. Kroger uses his personal observations, successes, and failures to demonstrate how current and future conservationists can effectively survive within government agencies while providing maximum protection for our natural resources.” BOOK OVERVIEW
This book was written specifically to encourage natural resource specialists to pick-
up the perpetual torch of conservation vocationists who measure successes in terms of natural resources protected and improved management of them.It explains why government conservation, environmental, and land management agencies do such a poor job of protecting and managing our public natural resources and how this malady can be cured.The author discusses the fundamental human differences between conservation vocationists and bureaucratic careerists and how their actions positively and negatively impact our natural resources, respectively. He explains how dedicated vocationists can be more effective in protecting our natural resources from unnecessary degradation within government agencies and how they can counteract negative management actions taken by bureaucratic careerists, who always work to promote their own self-interests of achieving more money, power, and prestige (status). The book also addresses how non-profit conservation groups and individual vocationists can become more successful in protecting our natural resources and preventing unnecessary environmental degradation caused by bureaucratic careerists.
The author takes the reader through over 45 years of his life while working as a
conservationist within federal agencies, state government, numerous non-profit groups, and as a private citizen on the East Coast, West Coast, Inter-mountain West, and Midwest. He uses his professional and private observations, successes, and failures to demonstrate how conservation vocationists can survive within government agencies while still effectively combating bureaucratic careerists and providing maximum protection for our natural resources.
Readers are provided guidance on how to become successful conservation
vocationists by learning to understand the innate driving forces of human behavior and how to effectively communicate and use finesse with key people to achieve improved management of our natural resources. Insight is provided about a variety of employment opportunities, some of which are unconventional but provide for maximizing natural resource protection during one’s lifetime. He concludes by explaining what specific changes are necessary to make conservation and land management agencies more effective in protecting our natural resources.
MORE INFORMATION @ http://www.rtconnect.net/ krogers.
Chapter I – The Need For This Book: As far as I know, no book has ever been written explaining the primary reasons why government conservation and environmental agencies do such a poor job of managing and protecting our natural resources. Likewise, no book has ever been written which presents the basic philosophical changes necessary in our conservation/environmental agencies and their employees in order to help rectify this inherently human behavior based problem. --- I coined the title “Conservation Vocationist” to differentiate those dedicated to proper natural resource management from the “Bureaucratic Careerists” who work in the field of conservation but instead are motivated by their own selfish personal interests. --- In Summary, there are seven primary reasons why I have written this book.
Chapter II – What Is A Conservation Vocation?: “Vocation” comes from the Latin root word “vocare” and when used in the religious sense means, “a lifetime of discipleship.” --- My use of the word in the conservation context is, “A lifelong calling to conserve all our natural resources or all of God’s creations.” --- Careerist is defined as, “A person who pursues advancements, often at the cost of one’s integrity.” --- They thrive on…
Chapter III – Experiences In The Field Of Conservation: I set off with my wife, three children, and a master’s degree in zoology/fisheries from a land-locked, inter-mountain west university to become a coastal marine fishery research biologist in Beaufort, North Carolina. --- To prevent misleading readers about the life of a biologist, it is important to first describe a typical day, week, or month during these seven years. --- I came to realize that making others look bad as a way to enhance one’s own image is a common practice within the bureaucratic careerist agencies. --- The Esturarine and Menhaden Laboratories had evolved into a structured caste system before I arrived.
My new position as a “combat biologist” with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was difficult and challenging, so I could not dwell on the fact that I had lost the last major battle within the Menhaden Laboratory. --- My new supervisor, Felix Smith, was the first true-blue conservation vocationist I had ever met. ---…my back would always stiffen at negotiation meetings when I would ask myself, “What would Felix do?” --- Then Congressman Ryan flamboyantly waved a letter over his head and said, “Here is an idiotic and stupid letter from an eco-freak who is not even from California and who is stopping our project.” --- He then said, “Who wrote it?” I responded, “I wrote that letter.” His response was, “I still say it is idiotic and stupid.” I immediately responded, “…
I knew the BLM work environment was going to be totally different because…The effectiveness of the three industries in controlling BLM’s decisions and protection of public land natural resources was very direct and efficient. --- Our District Manager (DM) was incensed by my stream/wetland findings and analyses and said the information was too inflammatory toward public land ranchers to be put into the EIS. --- Nothing strikes more fear into BLM or USFS careerist than when a formerly-weak program such as Fish and Wildlife, gains strength and starts openly fighting the industry abuses for more common-sense management. --- My equally loud response of, “Over my dead body,” coming from a…Stream and wetland degradation on public land in the Worland District became a lighting rod of controversy during my tenure. --- Current grazing practices still cause more widespread habitat damage on our public land than all other abuses combined. --- My guidance principle of “Be bold but not stupid” might have been violated in this…The legislator finally and totally lost her cool and began screaming at me. --- The range conservationist was subsequently threatened, a loaded .30-.30 thrust in his stomach by…
Life back in the single-use FWS was much less controversial and combative than in the BLM. --- This is a true trait of a conservation vocationist, one who can rise above the human frailties of egos and jealousy for the greater good of our natural resources. --- The audience was a solid sea of cowboy hats, and the mob regularly broke into rude heckling and gestures when we wilderness proponents made our presentations. Senator Dorgan later apologized profusely for...
The new life as a volunteer conservation vocationist started in May of 1994 with our return to my wife’s old farmstead in southwest Minnesota, only nine miles from the small farm town where I grew-up. --- A fifth and new goal was added to live long enough to see the Minnesota River and…again achieve swimmable and fishable status as mandated by the Clean Water Act. --- Although the data are overwhelming, the farming community refuses to accept its responsibility…It seldom happens that a small conservation group like CURE can help spark…on a national scale. --- These statements made the agitated Governor and the state’s majority and minority leaders of both houses fume as they had to politely listen to my tirades. --- Long held plans can drastically change as we go through different phases of our lives. --- In Wyoming, the most important natural resource issue is mismanagement of public lands by our federal government management agencies (BLM and USFS).
Chapter IV, Preparing For A Conservation Vocation: Throughout this book and especially this chapter, I tried to provide the reader information about the hard facts of life that natural resource schools fail to teach students about…The importance of gaining summer work experience in the conservation field cannot be over emphasized. --- Excluding total commitment, ultimate success as a conservation vocationist will depend upon how well you converse with and relate to people, and…This short article, like a flash of brilliance, provided me a scientific answer to my longtime question of why so many natural resource specialists abandoned their emerging conservation ethics to pursue personal advancement. --- To effectively and efficiently win natural resource battles, you must give full consideration to whose status is being threatened by your actions and to strategize accordingly.
Chapter V, Choosing A Natural Resource Employer: My BLM years are the ones about which I have the fondest memories because...Hundreds of non-profit environmental groups have professional conservationists on staff as biologists, lawyers, educators, and administrators. --- Teachers in all fields have the opportunity to instill a sense of concern and protection for our natural resources among their thousands of students who will…
Chapter VI, Guidance For Conservation Vocationists: My point is this: you not only have to work long and hard to achieve significant resource protection, but you must also work smart. --- One’s sword can be used only a few times, and sometimes only once, before ineffectiveness becomes a fact of life within careerist agencies. --- Never enter a serious conservation fight based only on emotions. --- Becoming an effective conservation vocationist is the most difficult task you will ever have.
Chapter VII, Necessary Changes In The Conservation Field: Changes must first occur in the outdated conservation education fields before improved protection of our natural resources can take place. --- Without developing a strong natural resource commitment, graduates naturally gravitate towards personal careerist goals in their innate pursuit of human recognition and status needs. --- Natural resource professors must constantly strive to ensure that their students learn “how” to be effective conservation vocationists, not just technically knowledgeable ones. --- Finally, the steps to the top rungs of agency management must be based on…not on regurgitating agency policy and protecting careerist superiors.
Richard (Dick) Kroger grew up in the small Southwest Minnesota farm town of
Cottonwood (population 700) during the 1940s and 50s. This was the last of the small town, Tom Sawyer era when parents allowed their sons to roam at will with their friends and dogs doing whatever spontaneous outdoor activity that seemed appropriate each day. His favorite activity was hunting and fishing with brothers, friends, and their dogs.
He credits early development of a strong work ethic to the perceived shame of
growing up poor with an alcoholic father and the competitiveness of being in a family of five boys. Although he received no parental or career guidance as a youth, he recognized early on that he alone was responsible for his future. His dream of becoming a wildlife conservationist developed during his mid-teens, but it was not until his senior year that he found out he needed a college degree. He actively pursued that dream after graduating in 1958 by joining the Army as a paratrooper to save money for college and to complete correspondence courses in subjects he had not taken as a high school student.
He entered college under scholastic probation as a result of never having taken a
book home to study for 12 years and spending most high school study hall periods in the library reading hunting and fishing stories and outdoor adventure books. He and his wife Karen worked at menial school-year jobs to support their growing family while he earned a B.S. degree with honors in Wildlife from South Dakota State University in 1965. His grades and summer work experience as a fisheries technician won him a research assistantship at the University of Wyoming where he earned a M.S. degree in Zoology/Fisheries in 1967.
He and Karen and their three children spent the next seven years in coastal North
Carolina where Dick worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service. He conducted research on the migrations and population dynamics of Atlantic and Gulf menhaden in 16 states from Maine to Mexico and authored and co-authored 19 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals. They then transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service in Sacramento where Dick assumed duties of a “combat biologist” assigned to fight for the protection of San Francisco Bay and the Central Valley of California from wetland destruction and water diversions. It was during the first year of working for a high energy, natural resource advocate supervisor when Dick’s life changed from being a bureaucratic careerist to a conservation vocationist totally dedicated to protecting our natural resources.
They then followed a family dream to return to the Inter-mountain West when Dick
took a reduction-in-grade and accepted a position in Worland, Wyoming. He pursued his conservation vocation within the bureaucratic careerist dominated Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for nearly 10 years. He and other committed conservationists formed a small group of BLM activists who convinced and finessed the Worland District supervisors to prepare forthright grazing Environmental Impact Statements and to exert their public trust authority in protecting natural resources and improving management on the 3-million acres of public land in the Bighorn Basin.
In 1988, Dick and Karen moved to Bismarck, North Dakota where he assumed
supervisory biologist duties for the Fish and Wildlife Service on the environmentally controversial Garrison Diversion Unit water development project. While here, as in all previous locations, he was active as a private citizen in non-profit conservation groups working to protect and improve management of the public’s natural resources.
In 1994, he and Karen retired and moved onto her childhood family farm which
straddles the Yellow Medicine River within the agricultural “Black Desert” of Southwest Minnesota – only nine miles from where he was raised. As a permanent legacy, they converted the intensively cultivated and eroding, corn/soybean rotation farm into a perpetually protected 160-acre wildlife oasis of restored tallgrass prairie, wooded draw, riparian, and riverine habitat. From this home base, Dick continued his life as a volunteer conservation vocationist committed to cleaning up the Minnesota River (the most polluted in the state as a result of agricultural runoff) which he viewed as the key to improving the ecological health and quality-of-life for all inhabitants in the intensively farmed 11-million acre watershed. He pursued this goal by actively working within six non-profit conservation groups.
In 2007, the tug of the grandchildren prompted Dick and Karen to return to
wonderful Wyoming, where most of them live. Here, he immediately re-initiated work with non-profit groups and other conservation vocationists to pressure the BLM and U.S. Forest Service bureaucratic careerist to improve management of natural resources on all 30-million acres of public land in Wyoming, as well as throughout the West. He still anguishes over the needless degradation of our natural resources and his ineffectiveness in bringing about timely improvements in their management.
For emotional refueling, he hunts, fishes, hikes, camps, and watches wildlife with his
family. His greatest enjoyment comes when accompanying grandchildren on their hunting and fishing adventures, especially when they achieve their first success, and he knows they are hooked for a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors. He is a hunting dog owner of 57 years and still gets excited as seasons approach for pursuing game birds and waterfowl with his sixth bird dog.
Rather than a politically liberal environmentalist, he views himself more as a
moderate republican redneck, even though he maintains memberships in about 25 environmental and conservation organizations. He has been a life member of the NRA for over 40 years, and ardent hunter of over 60 years, and over two decades ago, decided he was a “Teddy Roosevelt” republican who always votes for the environment. Like the Republicans for Environmental Protection, of which he is a member, he believes conservationists are the true conservatives. He works within the local party system to help make proper management of our natural resources once again a non-partisan issue.
This book represents a step toward completion of his longest held goal of
encouraging others to become conservation vocationists. He has given many books away and is selling them at less than costs in to encourage natural resource students, specialists, and managers to consider his message. His ultimate hope is that they will pass on their conservation vocationist inspiration to others, as they enter the field, and that the tide of needless natural resource degradation will someday be reversed. For the book to help in achieving this lofty goal, it would have to be widely used in natural resource college curriculums (where most professors already believe they are doing an outstanding job) and widely distributed within conservation and environmental agencies (where most of the bureaucratic careerist supervisors would rather ban it from their offices). Being a realist, he knows that success in this endeavor to counteract the negative aspects of innate human behavior is unlikely. But, he believes the stakes are too high not to commit the remainder of his life to the effort, even if it results in the conversion of only one student or current natural resource specialist to the dedicated life of a conservation vocationist. He knows the degree of success in this endeavor will depend on how well he follows the marketing advice of, “Book promotion isn’t about convincing people to buy your book. It’s about knowing where to find the people who are waiting for it.”
Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)