Richard Watson, President and CEO of the Peregrine Fund, Is Dependable, Thoughtful, Authentic, Discerning and Creative

What defining moments set you on your career path?

My career path launched at a very young age, maybe 10 years old, watching my hero, Jacques Cousteau, explore the undersea world from his ship Calypso. The sense of adventure and discovery I felt then turned to action when, aged 18 years, I drove the length of Africa with a rag-tag bunch of fellow adventurers, marveling at the wildlife we saw as we traversed vast landscapes along the way. By the time I finished my degree in marine zoology, I understood vividly that the natural world was in grave danger and needed conservation if humanity were to enjoy wildlife as I had in my young life. Chance introduced me to birds of prey as I sought a doctoral subject to focus my career in conservation, and eventually, dogged determination brought me to Boise nearly 30 years ago to the world’s most effective global raptor conservation organization, The Peregrine Fund, headquartered at the World Center for Birds of Prey. 

What motivates you?

I see the world around me with the eyes of a naturalist, amazed by the complexity and precision of animals and plants adapted to—and dependent on—specific ecological niches from the ocean depths to the highest mountains, broadest forests and harshest deserts. And I am appalled by humankind’s indifference to the millions of years of evolution that have preceded humans to this point in time. My hope is to conserve as much as is humanly possible in my short span on Earth so that our children and grandchildren may marvel at wildlife and benefit from ecological services, just as I have and our ancestors before us.   

What are your success habits? 

That four-month trip across Africa taught me much about working with others to a common goal; it also taught me how to turn adversity into adventure. I discovered that my attitude has more to do with how I view life than anything. Life’s unpleasant experiences—and there were many on that trip—can be viewed either as unlikable or, by choice, as adventure…a story told and retold for years after. I have chosen the latter whenever I could, and it has served me well through countless tribulations and far more successes.