Austin Smith Puts His Natural Resources Degree to Work in Warm Springs

Austin Smith, a senior in the natural resources program at OSU-Cascades, is a big-time hunter. He also considers himself an environmentalist, working as a wildlife technician for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

“Everyone’s got to eat,” he says. Smith, who grew up in Warm Springs, started working for his community’s natural resources department in high school. He surveyed salmon and helped with the reintroduction of bighorn sheep into the area.

“The tribes have an interest in getting first foods back into their natural ecosystems: bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, salmon, roots and berries,” says Smith. “They are part of our tradition and culture.”

After five years in the military, Smith returned home and began classes at Central Oregon Community College. He transferred to OSU-Cascades in 2012 and will graduate in June with a degree in natural resources, focusing on the conservation technology option.

He applied what he is learning at OSU-Cascades to his work at Warm Springs, including forest management work with the tribes’ timber sales.

Smith recently completed an internship through the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to look at deer and elk habitat fragmentation in the Northwestern corner of the Warm Springs reservation.

“I want to make a difference for our people because I see how much we depend on these first foods,” Smith says. “I want to preserve this for our future.”