September 30, 2016

Blog Post: Policy Fellow Brett Stayton

Participating in the Brad Rowse Policy Fellowship Program with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) this summer, I learned something new every day and I gained a much greater appreciation for the political process as it pertains to hunting, fishing, shooting and conservation. Growing up in Kentucky, I typically spent the fall chasing white-tails, the winter with my eyes on the horizon for ducks and geese, the spring trying to call in turkeys, and the summer casting lines for farm pond bass or big Ohio River catfish, but this summer I gained a whole new appreciation and understanding of the important role that legislators and organizations like CSF play in protecting the opportunities to hunt and fish that many of us in the sportsmen’s community can sometimes take for granted.

I have a degree in Wildlife Management from Eastern Kentucky University, and through my undergrad program I learned the biological foundations that many fish and wildlife management policies are predicated on. I’m currently a graduate student at Clemson University, where my program focuses on the human dimensions of conservation and natural resource management.  I’m also working with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help assess their youth hunting clinics around the state and in the fall of 2015 I helped DNR and the University launch an inaugural deer hunting clinic for Clemson Students with no prior hunting experience. This fall we’ve partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to expand the hunting clinic and provide students with an opportunity to participate in a mentored deer hunt at NWTF’s headquarters in Edgefield, SC.

Prior to my time at CSF I had some experience working with other aspects of hunting and wildlife conservation, but this summer I discovered an area where I feel I can truly make a positive impact on issues I’m personally vested in. My internship this summer provided me with an opportunity to explore the political and economic aspects of hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation and gain a more profound knowledge of the crucial role that hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters play in advancing conservation. The internship program allowed me to make in-depth contributions to projects that make a tangible difference when it comes to advancing and protecting policies that ensure that I, and all of America’s sportsmen and women, have ample opportunities to hunt, fish, and shoot. CSF is a unique organization, and thus the experience I gained working with them cannot be replicated anywhere else. This summer reaffirmed that I am on the right career path, and I look forward to hopefully returning to DC after grad school so I can continue trying to make meaningful contributions to hunting, fishing, and conservation issues in the political arena. If you’re passionate about hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors I highly advise you to apply for CSF’s Policy Fellowship program, and if you have time I recommend you hit the nearby Tidal Basin to do some fishing in the shadows of the monuments. 


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