Dave Hamilton may not have started out his college career on the road to becoming a USGS scientist, but when his college, Miami of Ohio, required him to choose a minor to go with his Computer Science major in the same year as the first Earth Day, he chose Ecology. This decision probably altered his life’s path forever and led Dave to spend the next thirty plus years studying ecological sciences, beginning his career with the National Power Plant team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978. He moved to the Western Energy and Land Use Team in 1979 where he worked with ecology and computer modeling to help the Adaptive Environmental Assessment Group develop innovative approaches to planning and decision-making. The team held large stakeholder meetings where they built resource models improving the communications between stakeholders. This new approach helped stakeholders make environmental management decisions.
Dave has been a member of the Resource Problem Analysis Section, the Terrestrial Ecosystems Branch, a Supervisory Ecologist and section leader of the Southern Rocky Mountain Ecosystems Section, and a Charter member of the National Biological Survey. He transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey as a member of the Midcontinent Ecological Science Center (MESC) in 1996 and then later became branch chief for the Fort Collins Science Center’s Aquatic Systems and Technology Application Branch in 2001. (Later this branch split into two of the branches at FORT today: Aquatic Systems and Information Sciences.) In 2003, Dave began a five-year term as the Assistant Center Director at FORT and then became the Center Director in 2008.
Some of Dave’s fondest memories from his career are of doing the computer simulation modeling workshops mentioned earlier, in which they helped stakeholders with “what if” simulations to improve communications and hence outcomes. He also enjoyed the years he spent on National Wildlife Refuge management projects traveling to many different refuges across the U.S. to wade through the wetlands and discuss management options.
He plans to begin his retirement with a five-week motorcycle trip to and around Alaska with his girlfriend this summer. He will ride his bike all the way there and back, and plans on camping in the great outdoors for much of the trip with a few nights in hotels to rest up. He will probably put at least 8,000 miles on his bike and enjoy the amazing scenery and good times no doubt. When he returns to Colorado, he will spend cherished time with his daughters, son-in-law, and two-year-old grandson and visit their Denver-based micro-brewery. He also plans to continue his hobby of building Windsor chairs and enjoy his love of antique motorcycles, like his 1946 Indian.
Max Ethridge, Regional Director, Southwest Region of the USGS, said of Dave, “We all hate to see Dave leave; he has done a great job as Center Director for the Fort Collins Science Center, and he has always been good to work with. We wish him the best as he enters this new phase of life.” Dave Hamilton’s career has been a long and winding road, but as he leaves on a new adventure, his message to all, (from an inspirational picture he reads every time he departs his office) is, “We cannot control the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” We hope that this new road in Dave’s life is all smooth sailing and that he enjoys each and every day. Congratulations Dave!