FWS Behind the Lens: Steve Hillebrand
In 1976, Steve Hillebrand joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as Chief of Audiovisual in the Headquarters Public Affairs Office. In 1995, the first Director of National Conservation Training Center, Rick Lemon, invited Steve to join him in West Virginia to help launch the center. His assignment was to work with architects to design from scratch a state-of-the-art audiovisual facility that would serve the FWS into the next century and hire the staff that would carry out that mission. For Hillebrand, this was a fantastic opportunity. Most important and satisfying to Hillebrand was selecting and hiring the young, enthusiastic FWS employees that went on to create a center that FWS employees across the country take pride in and glean inspiration from.
“I had a privilege that few people have: the chance to build a long-lasting conservation legacy through the National Conservation Training Center. We aimed to build it so that conservationists from around the country would want to come and be a part of it.”- Hillebrand
As Hillebrand approached retirement in the early 2000’s, he remembered 1976, working in the Department of the Interior North Penthouse office next to Bob Hines, the FWS National Wildlife Artist. As Hines was approaching retirement, his assignment was to paint the wildlife of Alaska. He took several trips, returning with loads of sketches and began to turn them into beautiful oil paintings. Hillebrand thought, “Someday I want to photograph the National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.” By 2005, Hillebrand was fortunate to have made many friends of FWS employees in Alaska. He called them and offered his services and they said, ”come on up, we need new photos.”
Hillebrand’s iconic wildlife and landscape images have served the FWS well over the years, and his work makes up a significant portion of the FWS National Digital Library. To view Hillebrand’s images in the FWS National Digital Library, click here.
The FWS National Digital Library aims to highlight different people in the field who have contributed imagery that reflects the full expression of the mission of the Service. Visit us at: images.fws.gov. Brought to you by the USFWS Conservation Library. #FWSBehindTheLens