Ashe was a child in Atlanta when his father began a 37-year career as a forester and biologist in the agency his son would take over in 2011 to cap his own 16 years at FWS. Ashe and his four brothers often accompanied their father as he traveled the South assessing properties that might be added to the Wildlife Refuge System; along the way, they learned to love fishing, hunting, bird-watching, and everything outdoors. "I never really thought about working here," Ashe, 57, admitted. But after graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and getting a master's in marine affairs at the University of Washington, he was destined for a career in the natural world. He spent 13 years on Capitol Hill as a staffer on the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee before taking a job at FWS in 1995 as assistant director of external affairs. Three years later, Ashe became chief of the refuge system; he moved to a post as science adviser to the director in 2003, and then to deputy director for policy in 2009. For now, Ashe says, "the big challenge is always how to fit conservation into economic development—and how to do it in a sensible way." And of course, amid the pressure for budget cuts, doing more with less, he adds.
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