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Shayna Carney/USFWS
Around the water cooler: Getting to know Shayna Carney

From field stations to headquarters and from social scientists to stakeholders, the human dimensions of natural resources play a major role in conservation! We all have different attitudes, beliefs, and values stemming from our personal backgrounds, interests and experiences. One of the best ways to bridge gaps, understand our audiences and grow as a conservation agency is to take a moment to get to know each other!


Once a month, the Conversations in HD Blog will feature a fun interview with a Service employee to help get to know each other better. We encourage you to venture out into your community, grab a cup of coffee and do the same!


Meet Shayna Carney!

Shayna Carney is a course leader at the National Conservation Training Center. She joined the staff in February 2011 from Hawai‘i, where she served as supervisory park ranger for the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Born and raised in northern California, she has also worked in natural resources for the U.S. Forest Service, California State Parks as well as the City of Roseville, California. She is a third generation California State University, Chico graduate. There, she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Recreation Administration.


Why did you choose this career?

It was all because of a guy sitting next to me in my college field biology class. He asked if I could take notes for him since he was going to be on a four-day backpacking trip for his outdoor leadership class. I immediately asked, “What’s your major?” A week later, mine was recreation administration.


What are people surprised to learn about your area of expertise?

That one of my areas of expertise is littering. For my master’s thesis I looked at the effects of an interpretive display on littering behavior among duck hunters. While the display had little impact on littering, the work really sparked my interest in social science. It is fascinating. In one study, 87% of people surveyed felt that they had an obligation to never litter. But, what do you see when we attend a football game or go to the movies?


Why is it important to foster social science understanding within the Service?

Aldo Leopold once wrote, “There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to the land.” By fostering an understanding and considering these relationships, I think we better prepare ourselves to effectively manage and conserve our natural resources. Because natural resource management involves not only ecological processes, but also social processes.


What was the last nature fact that you found fascinating?

There are over 150 species of fireflies in North America! Our family has been participating in the citizen science project Firefly Watch. We’ve been working on identifying fireflies by their flash patterns, which are unique to each species. It takes some patience which is not always the easiest with a three-year-old, but she loves watching for “bum lights”.


How did you get your name?

Via the newspaper, because Christopher wasn’t going to work. My parents thought they were having a boy, so I didn’t have a name at first. Just before they left the hospital, my mom read an article about a midwife who had named her daughter Shayna. Otherwise, I might have been named Christa or Christine.


Do you prefer Skittles or M&Ms? Why?

Skittles all the way! Some say that you shouldn’t trust people who don’t like chocolate. I don’t dislike chocolate; it’s just that I preferother things over chocolate. Strawberry shortcake, crème brûlée or a slice of cherry pie will win out over chocolate every time. Lemon bar versus a warm brownie? Now, that’s a tough call.