Kevin He (MS ’17)
The Pew Charitable Trusts
What did it mean to you to be named a Wyss Scholar? What were some of the activities and opportunities that held the greatest impact for you?
Having grown up in Phoenix, Arizona, much of my conservation ethos was developed through hiking and otherwise exploring the nearby desert landscapes, and being a part of an amazing network of conservationists dedicated to those same landscapes is truly an honor. The internship funding from the Wyss Scholar program allowed me to build my own internship around my very specific interests around landscape conservation and finance and join a unique summer program at The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Investments Department in San Francisco. Being a part of that cohort, many of which were coming from business school and finance backgrounds, really jump-started my engagement in the broader conservation finance field, and it’s become an integral part of my work today.
Can you tell us about your SEAS experience? How did it help you advance in the conservation field?
I went into SEAS expecting to become an environmental economist and came out much more than that. Without the tools and perspectives I gained through coursework in political analysis (through Steve Yaffee’s core course for environmental policy students), collaborative management systems, and negotiation and mediation, I very much doubt I would be as comfortable in the boundary-spanning role I inhabit now. As a member of the Conservation Science team at The Pew Charitable Trusts, I am often seeking to align research and science with the policy and political contexts they must inform.
What kind of changes have you observed in land conservation in the U.S. over the course of your career?
There is increasing momentum behind stronger integration of human dimensions in conservation efforts across the U.S., and I believe this is an important catalyst for innovation in projects we implement across the landscape. No longer is conservation simply an effort to preserve “wild” landscapes within lines on a map, but instead, we’re starting to see approaches that cut across boundaries, connecting preserved landscapes with managed ones, all with the aims for achieving common biodiversity, resilience and human goals.
Note: Prior to 2017, the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) was known as the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). References to “SNRE” have been updated to “SEAS” to reflect the name change.