Conservation & Communication

By: Lindsay Key

In June 2016, Adam Schellhammer achieved his dream job when he became director of the Monroe County Conservation District in New Jersey.  He credits his graduation from Virginia Tech’s Master’s of Natural Resources (MNR)—just a month before—as the key to his success.

“I decided to enter the MNR program because I knew that the education and experience that I would gain throughout the program would be instrumental in achieving a position in the conservation field where I could truly make a difference,” said Schellhammer.  “It also reminded me that one’s education should never end; the science of conservation is ever changing and the interpersonal skills needed to achieve results are skills that require refinement through dedication and practice.”

In his new position, Schellhammer will oversee technical and educational operations for the conservation district.  The district is responsible for administering state and federal programs that are designed to address water quality issues by improving agricultural practices, monitoring and inspecting development, and engaging in environmental advocacy and education.

“The necessity to work with diverse stakeholders has illustrated the importance of effective communication and conflict mediation in the field of conservation,” said Schellhammer.  “Luckily, this area of study was a primary focus throughout the MNR program.”

Schellhammer particularly enjoyed courses taught by Senior CLiGS Fellow, Emily Talley and faculty member Andrew Perlstein that highlighted conservation mediation, communication, and influence.

“Adam’s dedication to the study of interpersonal communication, negotiation, and conflict management is exemplary,” said Talley. “He understands that these skills are critical for effective leadership, and are transferable across roles, organizations, and sectors. Adam will thrive in his new position, given his ongoing commitment to professional development and his ability to apply what he’s learned in a practical context.”

Prior to his new position, Schellhammer worked as a natural resource manager for Friends of Princeton Open Space, where he worked with a diverse group of stakeholders, including government officials and private entities, to advocate for protection and conservation of ecologically valuable open space.

He has also received VT’s graduate certificates in Natural Resources Management and Global Sustainability from Virginia Tech in 2015, and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from Millersville University in 2010.  

Adam and his wife, Beth, are looking forward to the birth of their first child due November 1, 2016.