Ethan Shirley

M.S., J.D, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

Ethan is passionate about conservation and preventing extinction as a scientist, legal scholar, and educator. Since he was young, he has been exploring nature--starting with his nature-loving mother in Michigan, and on trips around the world. He found inspiration in particular in great ape and big cat conservation, holding Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall as personal heroes growing up. Now, he works primarily on questions related to woolly mammoth extinction, which he applies to the conservation of modern elephants. 

His work with Focus Conservation Fund began as a high-school volunteer teaching English and training guides at the Jaguar Ecological Reserve (JER) in the Brazilian Pantanal. There, he worked for four summers teaching English, helping with tasks around the lodge, and improving the ecotourism experience through working with the local owners and guides. Three JER-trained guides now have started their own ecotourism companies, and the lodge continues to draw tourists from around the world, proving the success of the community-sourced ecotourism operations for the conservation of natural areas that FCF has championed for decades. 

In addition to this work, Ethan works with Michigan-based Juara Foundation to change how scientists work with local communities, to the benefit of both scientific research and community infrastructure. His social science research into how noncompliance with environmental laws can be related to distrust in scientists has fueled his vision to create scientific field stations that are also community centers. These stations encourage scientists conducting ecological research about endangered species to also play a nontrivial role in the education and conservation of rural communities. These communities, after all, are the ones charged with the guardianship of the natural areas we all seek to protect, and must be supported.

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