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Senior Fellow Profile: Stan Temple

Stan Temple

Name: Stanley A. Temple

Job Title: Senior Fellow and Science Advisor

What does that entail? As Science Advisor to the Board, I provide expert advice on technical matters having to do with ALF's Science and Stewardship Program. In my role as Senior Fellow I provide the Board and Staff with advice and assistance on a wide range of conservation issues, and I represent ALF at public meetings and in dealings with the academic community.

What is your educational and professional background? I have all my degrees (B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in ecology) from Cornell University. From 1976-2007 I was the Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The position was originally held by Aldo Leopold and then Joseph Hickey.

Where are you originally from? I spent the most important years of my childhood near Cleveland, Ohio, but my family moved around the country, exposing me to lots of ecological diversity.

What brought you to work in the environmental field? I have been interested in wildlife since childhood. As a high school student I worked at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where I was able to meet influential role models, including Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, Stewart Udall and Durwood Allen. While a student at Cornell I participated in the first Earth Day. I decided to pursue a career in conservation biology (rather than ecology) while in graduate school working at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. After getting my Ph.D., I spent 3 years working on endangered species on islands in the Indian Ocean and then returned to Cornell to lead the peregrine falcon reintroduction program. By that point, I was irreversibly committed to a career in biological conservation.

How long have you worked for ALF? I have been ALF's Science Advisor since 1982 and became a Senior Fellow upon retiring from academia in 2007.

What is your favorite part of your job? I am able to share a 40-year career's worth of experiences in conservation with the staff and board of ALF.

What is the biggest challenge? I still have a lot to learn about how to convince people to confront  seriously what Aldo Leopold called the "oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it."

How has working for ALF changed your thinking? I appreciate more than ever how effective it can be to build conservation initiatives on an ethical foundation, in ALF's case, Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic.

What is your favorite Leopold quote/essay? I like Leopold's simple definition: "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.", but I also like his realistic assessment of that ideal: “We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.” These words keep me from becoming too frustrated as I strive for an ideal.