Tennessee River Gorge Trust, a Chattanooga-based nonprofit conservation organization which protects more than 17,500 acres in the Tennessee River Gorge, announced that it has hired Rick Huffines, 50, as its new executive director. Mr. Huffines succeeds Jim Brown, who is retiring after having led the organization successfully for the last 18 years.
Mr. Huffines currently serves as the Deputy Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Atlanta, Georgia. He will be joining the Tennessee River Gorge Trust on Jan. 7, 2013 after retiring from a 26-year career of public service where he has worked throughout the Southeast in five different states in various capacities.
Daniel Carter, chairman of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust Board of Directors said, “Rick Huffines is the ideal candidate to lead the Trust into the future while building on the solid foundation that Jim Brown and his team have built during the last several decades. Rick is a seasoned leader who has extensive scientific and land management experience. He has worked on numerous complex national conservation initiatives which required a determination for collaboration. Rick will be a great asset to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and to the conservation community at-large.”
Mr. Huffines spent his youth in Old Hickory, Tn., roaming the banks of the Cumberland River where he was inspired at a young age to follow his passion for conservation. He attended Middle Tennessee State University and graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Plant and Soil Science with an emphasis on Wildlife Management.
He has been married to his wife, Judy, for 23 years. Ms. Huffines is also an alumna of Middle Tennessee State University and works for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Program Analyst. She is originally from Beech Grove, Tn. They have a 20-year old son, Gus, who is a sophomore at the University of Georgia studying Biological Engineering. Gus is an accomplished violinist and has been playing for over 14 years. The family enjoys spending time with their extended families in Tennessee and participating in a myriad of outdoor activities – hiking, outdoor photography, camping, hunting and fishing.
The Huffineses are very excited about this new opportunity, as well as their upcoming move to Chattanooga. Mr. Huffines said, “When I was 16 years old I was inspired by Ron Raines, a Tennessee Conservationist who taught me I could do something I loved for a career and mentored me in that process. I educated myself and launched into a 26-year career that has taken me on special assignments to Alaska, Cuba, the Caribbean and all over the Southeast. On my journey I have captured American crocodiles in Florida, participated in scientific expeditions on uninhabited Islands in the Caribbean, apprehended and prosecuted wildlife poachers across the South, researched some of the rarest birds on earth and worked with some of the brightest and finest people in the process. I could not have imagined these kinds of things as a young Tennessean and it is for this reason I want to give back to my State and bring my experience and collaborative spirit to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. In the process, I also hope to inspire other young Tennessee conservationists in the same way I was inspired, to carry this important work forward into the future.
“I am honored to have been selected to follow behind another great Tennessee conservationist, Jim Brown, who has served the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and the community of Chattanooga as a founder and leader of the organization for three decades. I am looking forward to carrying on the legacy that has been established by Jim and the Trust. I want to start by listening to what the Trust supporters, volunteers, the community, and the Board of Directors have to say about the future. I also look forward to discussing ideas with my new colleague, Sarah Quattrochi, and meeting with other conservationist and community leaders in the area.”