Game Biologist Named Professional of the Year

If you were able to stop by the Nevada Department of Wildlife headquarters office in Reno in the early morning hours before the doors open to the public at 8 a.m. you would most likely find Shawn Espinosa, wildlife staff specialist responsible for the Upland Game Program, at his desk. The same would be true if you poked your head in his door well after closing. After a while you would have to wonder, "Does this guy ever go home?"

His tireless efforts have apparently not gone unnoticed as Espinosa was awarded the Raymond F. Dasmann Award for the Professional of the Year from the Wildlife Society – Western Section. The award was part of the Wildlife Society – Western Section Annual Conference held in Reno Jan. 29-31 in Reno.

"Obviously you don’t go into wildlife biology for awards," said Espinosa. "I got into this field because I have a passion for this work. That being said, it is definitely rewarding to have your hard work recognized by your peers. To be recognized by the Western Section of The Wildlife Society, which embodies objectivity and professionalism in the wildlife conservation and management field, is truly an honor."

The award is given to a professional who develops, applies, administers or completes an especially significant program of management, education, research or communications that results in an outstanding contribution to wildlife resources in the Western Section geographic area. The Western Section of The Wildlife Society is comprised of over 1,000 wildlife managers, biologists, ecologists, and students from California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Guam who are all devoted to the sustainable conservation of wildlife in the western United States.

"Shawn epitomizes the dedication and passion that our biologists bring to work day in and day out, "said Tony Wasley, Director for NDOW.

Espinosa was also named the Employee of the Year for NDOW in 2013. Over the past 20 years he has dedicated himself to NDOW in nearly every aspect. He worked as a member of the stream survey crew for the Fisheries Division; a game warden in southern Nevada; a Habitat Biologist as a member of the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team focused on implementation of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program; four years as the wildlife staff specialist specifically responsible for Greater Sage-grouse (GSG) conservation planning efforts in Nevada; and the last seven years as a wildlife staff specialist, responsible for the Upland Game Program for NDOW that includes being the lead biologist for both the Bi-state Sage-grouse Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and GSG program.

His nomination form states “Greater sage-grouse conservation in the west and the controversy over the pending listing decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is one of the most significant wildlife conversation issues of our generation. Over the last decade that the GSG issue has grown to become a national focus, Shawn has distinguished himself as a leader and a subject matter expert, not only in Nevada and the Great Basin, but nationally as well. He has done this with intellect, poise and professionalism.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at