Brandon Diamond ‘99 wanted to graduate college as a competitive candidate for a position with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (formerly the Colorado Division of Wildlife). Today, he is a District Wildlife Manager for the agency.
Looking back, Diamond credits much of his success to the foundational research experience and professional wildlife network he gained through the Thornton Biology Research Program.
Diamond grew up in Coal Creek Canyon, Colo., and took notice of Western during elk-hunting trips to Gunnison with his dad. During those trips he developed an interest in wildlife, the places they live and the science of managing them.
“Those trips planted a seed for me,” Diamond said.
Naturally, Diamond enrolled as a Biology major at Western with a Wildlife Management emphasis, taking advantage of the experiential Thornton Program in the following years. He spent one summer monitoring the Fossil Ridge and Cochetopa bighorn sheep populations for the Division of Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management.
“Getting paid to live with bighorn sheep was a pretty tough job to beat,” Diamond said. “However, what stands out most to me was the day I presented my findings.”
Diamond’s long days in the field resulted in a data set that facilitated a GIS-based project (geographic information system) for Thornton on seasonal habitat use of bighorn sheep.
“I remember the audience being much bigger than I anticipated,” Diamond said. “It made me realize how my work might actually have the potential to influence bighorn management in the Gunnison Basin.”
Doubtless, the hands-on experience gained through the Thornton program helped groom Diamond for a desired role within the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“I feel like I achieved that goal to the best of my ability,” Diamond said. “But I also have to credit the professors and agency folks that encouraged me and went out of their way to help me.”