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On this episode Joe has Aurelia Skipwith the Immediate Past Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Hunting Matters podcast. He discusses with her the childhood dream to use science to develop sustainable crops she had and how it got her to where she is today. Her transition and what progression at the USFWS, and the MOU’s passed while there and the role they play. We then talk about how more species were down and delisted (ESA) during the past four years than any other administration in their first four years. How was this accomplished, and what does that mean for the past and future of wildlife species? Electronic Permitting was another big accomplishment in 2020. What is that? Joe then discusses with Skipwith about her childhood, outdoors, and of course her love for fishing and hunting. You do not want to miss this episode!
Ms. Skipwith was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities in Muncie, Indiana and then earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and a Master’s Degree in Molecular Genetics from Purdue University. After working several years in the private sector, she realized the prohibitive effects of overburdensome regulations and laws on science, so she obtained her law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law, now University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law and is licensed to practice in Kentucky and Washington, D.C.
In her first role after graduate school, in June 2006, Ms. Skipwith began work on her childhood dream of using science to develop sustainable crops to help improve productivity while ensuring environmental health. She started as a lab technician at Monsanto Company, now Bayer Corporation in St. Louis, MO. She progressed to becoming a study director where she managed a team of scientist focused on new agricultural products. In 2011, she was promoted to the Corporate Affairs Department where she managed international development projects in Africa and managed a multi-million-dollar Ph.D. scholarship program to advance breeding developments in rice and wheat crops. After leaving Corporate Affairs at Monsanto Company to obtain her law degree, she served as Assistant Corporate Counsel at Alltech, Inc., an all-natural international animal feed and agriculture corporation in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where she was the legal contact for Alltech Crop Science Division, which focused on soil and crop health.
Ms. Skipwith was a Co-Founder and the General Counsel of AVC Global, a leading-edge supply chain platform with track and trace technology and Supply Chain Financing available through an integrated Fintech platform on a Blockchain.
In April 2017, Ms. Skipwith was appointed by President Trump to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Department of the Interior. Ms. Skipwith was responsible and had oversight for policy, planning, and regulatory actions for the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
On January 6, 2020, Ms. Aurelia Skipwith was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence as the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). She served as the 22nd Director for the Service and was the first African American to hold the position. Ms. Skipwith was first nominated by President Trump in October 2018 for the position and then she was re-nominated in the 116th Congress on July 17, 2019. She was confirmed by the full Senate on December 12, 2019.
As the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ms. Skipwith was responsible for the federal management of fish, wildlife and natural habitats. The Service’s mission is “working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” The Service employs over 8,500 employees and manages over 855 million acres of land and water. In her role as Director, she served on multiple Councils and Committees, including serving as the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Interagency Executive Council and was also a member of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru. On January 19, 2021, Ms. Skipwith resigned from her position as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ms. Skipwith is an avid marathon runner and a true believer in getting involved. Her family hails from Columbus, Mississippi.