NEPARC Conservation Awards

2022 Award Winner

Scott started as the Rhode Island state herpetologist in 2018, where he inventories, assesses, manages herpetofauna across the state, and regularly engages with private landowners, academic researchers, law enforcement, public affairs staff and various non-governmental organizations within the state.

Prior to his position with the state of RI, Scott conducted research and developed monitoring protocols for rattlesnakes, hognose snakes and a number of amphibians in Massachusetts and New Jersey. He researched freshwater turtles of RI to evaluate how landscape variability related to species distribution, abundance, demography, and population genetic structure for his dissertation. Scott has also published, presented widely, organized workshops, developed outreach and citizen science projects, acquired research funding, and collaborates extensively with his counterparts in other states on projects and has served as the lead for Competitive State Wildlife Grants.

Scott’s collaborations with zoos, academic researchers, students and agency colleagues have fostered the funding for SGCN species, care of confiscated reptiles, disease screening, building of genetic databases, outreach materials, testing of new research techniques, implementation of long-term monitoring and much more. Through his involvement, over a million dollars of state and federal funding has been awarded for herpetofaunal conservation.

One of Scott’s greatest achievements is his leadership on addressing illegal trade in turtles. In 2018, Scott co-founded and continues to co-chair the Collaborative to Combat the Illegal Trade in Turtles (CCITT), whose mission is to advance efforts to better understand, prevent, and eliminate the illegal collection and trade of North America’s native turtles.  Scott has played an instrumental role in developing the vision for CCITT and defining its organizational and leadership structure. He leads monthly membership and bi-weekly leadership calls which have contributed to the group’s many accomplishments to date. Scott has brought the issue of illegal turtle trade to the forefront and enhanced communication and coordination among biologists and LE at the state and federal level, resulting in increased enforcement/confiscations of herps in the northeast and nationally. Scott presents widely on the issue at conferences and networks with members of the AFWA committees to share information and encourage others to engage on this issue, and facilitates discussion about regulations, which has helped states develop stronger regulations and more regulatory consistency in the northeast. CCITT currently has 123 members including state/federal biologists and law enforcement, non-profits, and academic institutions across North America.

Kindness to people and organisms is at the core of Scott’s personality. He thoughtfully mentors undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds about conservation and research, and prides himself on mentoring the next generation of conservation professionals at multiple universities across the northeast. Scott is also aware of the constituents he serves as a state herpetologist and acts to make information accessible. For example, he developed easy to understand language to disseminate on the laws and regulations because people could not comprehend the legal terminology. He also dedicates a lot of time to conducting outreach, which includes everything from a podcast to reaching out to pet store owners. Scott thinks before acting, has cultural competencies and is diplomatic in his interactions, even during difficult conversations or when he disagrees. In his leadership role at CCITT, he’s always welcoming and inclusive, providing space and time for any member to contribute. He is truly a team player, even listing everyone on the CCITT leadership group as authors on presentation abstracts.

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Northeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is fiscally sponsored by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.