Ovando, MT — The Blackfoot Challenge is pleased to announce the hiring of Seth Wilson as Executive Director. Seth assumed the position full-time on September 3, concluding the organization’s 8-month national search. As the organization’s first Wildlife Coordinator in 2001, Seth brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the unique issues facing the Blackfoot watershed as well as an intimate understanding of the collaborative approach that has come to define the organization’s success.

“I am very honored to welcome Seth back to the Blackfoot Challenge,” says Jim Stone, Board Chair of the Blackfoot Challenge. “His passion for people, community, and this watershed is unmatched. In addition to his previous 12 years with the Challenge, he brings with him a tremendous amount of experience in team leadership, partnership-building, and a strong connection to the values and vision of collaborative conservation.”

Seth grew up in Cornwall, Connecticut and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Government from St. Lawrence University, a M.S. in Environmental Studies as well as a Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Montana in Missoula. While conducting his Ph.D. research, Seth began working for the Blackfoot Challenge in 2001 as the organization’s first Wildlife Coordinator, helping to gather baseline data and develop strategies to reduce conflicts with grizzly bears and wolves that are still hallmarks of the program today.

As an applied conservation biologist, Seth has worked on resolving issues between people and wildlife in the United States, Canada, and Europe for more than 20 years. His research and applied conservation have focused on large carnivore conservation, natural resource governance with a focus on communication and decision making, human-wildlife conflict, geo-spatial models, and landscape-scale conservation.  Most recently, he spent three years in Slovenia working for the country’s Forest Service on a variety of wildlife related projects using a collaborative approach with local communities. Seth is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Human-Bear Conflict Expert Team, and serves as the Board Chair of the Montana Livestock Loss Board.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be back with the Blackfoot Challenge and working with this amazing group of people,” says Seth. “I have complete confidence in the collaborative process that has been pioneered in the Blackfoot watershed. I respect and cherish these communities, and I have a deep attachment to the places that make the Blackfoot a treasure. As I look to the future, I believe the model of collaboration practiced in the Blackfoot watershed has broad scale application for solving complex problems in our changing world.”

Seth is delighted to be living back in Missoula with his wife Jennifer and their three children: Zoe (18), who just started her first year at Bowdoin College in Maine, Simon (15), who is a sophomore at Hellgate High School, and Reid (9), who attends Lewis and Clark School. When not working, Seth enjoys cycling, skiing, travel, cooking, and watching all three of his children play hockey.

Seth will work out of the Challenge’s Ovando office and welcomes visits from the community. You can also get in touch with Seth directly at seth@blackfootchallenge.org or at 406-880-9613.