Governmental natural resources specialists manage government-owned lands and resources such as forests, beaches and wildlife. They ensure proper utilization of these resources, investigate causes of resource degradation, and contribute to the development of resource protection laws and policies. These specialists can work for federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local natural resources management departments and agencies.
Using the Skills
Skills in program development and project management are an asset to natural resources specialists. Their job involves creating resource conservation programs and planning and coordinating their implementation. They use research and analytical skills to study and interpret a variety of feasibility reports, and problem-solving skills to devise effective strategies for protecting endangered resources. Strong communication and presentation skills are also integral to the competence of these specialists, as they often give presentations or speeches in board meetings, public hearings and other events.
The kind of resources government natural resources specialist work to conserve vary by agency. In the FWS, for instance, these specialists work to conserve fish and wild animals in their natural habitats; in the BLM, they create and implement recreation programs designed to enhance the productivity of the millions of acres of public land -- they also supervise mining activities to prevent depletion of minerals and ensure proper mine reclamation; while at the EPA, natural resources specialists ensure domestic and industrial activities do not lead to air, soil or water pollution.
Recommending New Policies
To promote the sustainable use of natural resources, these workers help governments to create laws or policies that can effectively prohibit activities that damage the natural environment. They can conduct research to identify areas that are not comprehensively regulated and provide recommendations to the agency. For example, if the activities of loggers lead to massive destruction of natural woodlands, a natural resources specialist working for the U.S. Forest Service may recommend the formulation of policies that make it mandatory for logging companies to plant new trees.
Aspiring governmental natural resources specialists must be American citizens with a clean criminal background. They also need a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management, biological sciences or a closely related field, and a good knowledge of federal and state natural resource laws and regulations. Aspirants can become members of the International Association for Society and Natural Resources to show their professionalism to potential employers. Experienced specialists with a master’s degree in natural resources management can qualify for senior government jobs, such as natural resources program manager.