Wayne Freimund - Society and Conservation
I have always felt most at peace in vast, wild places. Studying and teaching about protected area management allows me to both experience wild places and contribute to their lasting protection. Here at the University of Montana, I teach courses on advanced protected area management and managing visitors in national parks. I also conduct an annual 20 day-long seminar for park managers from developing countries around the world. I have had the great fortune to conduct research in nearly a dozen national parks in the United States, Canada, and South Africa. One of the most compelling aspects of being a professor is the diversity of activities that the job encompasses. In any given week, I interact with exceptional students who are seeking to better understand nature conservation and with managers and scientists who are charged with safeguarding some of the world's most special places such as Glacier National Park. My summer seminar on protected area management is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job. Through that seminar, which is sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know managers from over 70 countries. For me, it is a month of continuing education each July. Those managers, who are often working in conditions of great strife, inspire me and reinforce the importance of our work and the sacrifices that people make every day to conserve our wild places and wildlife. They remind me of how fortunate we are to live and work in Montana.
When I came to the University of Montana, I knew this was a place of great importance in my field. Some of the best wilderness and conservation scholars in the nation hail from UM and Missoula. What I did not anticipate, however, was that UM would gain the international prominence that it has in the past decade. My work here has taken me to 21 countries; I have hosted well over 350 professionals from around the world. At UM, I can facilitate scholarly exchanges and opportunities for students in many of the world's most special places, while enjoying the relative peace and ongoing learning opportunities afforded by the close proximity of places like Yellowstone National Park.