Photo of Cody Kamrowski, UW-Stevens Point '16, with his dog, Nova, working to preserve outdoor habitats.

Cody Kamrowski, ’16, with his dog, Nova, works to preserve outdoor habitats.

Cody Kamrowski, Melrose, had specific career goals as he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in May 2016 with a major in natural resources social and policy sciences.

“I deeply value natural resources and want to preserve them for future generations to enjoy it just as I have,” he said at the time.

Today, Kamrowski does that and more as the new executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF). The organization has worked toward conserving the state’s outdoor heritage for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation for the past 75 years. He was recruited by former WWF executive director Mark LaBarbera, a friend and mentor.

When Kamrowski was first introduced to the organization, former Department of Natural Resources Secretary George Meyer was the executive director. He recalls meeting Meyer while in college and saying to himself, ‘that role is my dream job.’

“Now here I am, incredibly humbled and grateful for it,” said Kamrowski. “The conservation work is grassroots based, with an expansive network of individual and affiliate members who magnify our impact in the state and in the Midwest.”

While he officially began his new duties on January 2, Kamrowski began working with the WWF in January 2023 as the director of development and field operations and was engaged with the group for many years as a volunteer and member of the board of directors. He also served as the National Wildlife Federation’s youngest board member from 2018 to 2022, representing Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

As executive director, Kamrowski wears many hats, as most leaders do at non-profit organizations, he said. One day, he works on outreach communications, the next on policy analysis and the next, the organizational budget funding operations. Additionally, as the public face of the WWF, he serves as a registered lobbyist and spends time at the state capitol building for hearings and policy making.

“Some days I get pulled in a lot of directions,” he said. “The challenge is always fun and always worth it.”

Photo of Cody Kamrowski, who served an internship in Washington D.C. while a student at UWSP.

Cody Kamrowski served an internship in Washington D.C. while a student at UWSP.

The road to the WWF began with his first job after college with the Regional Planning Commission in Spooner, Wis., which built a foundation of knowledge in local government and organizational planning. He then worked for Wisconsin Emergency Management, learning about hazard mitigation planning and natural disaster resilience. He also began working as a volunteer firefighter in Shell Lake then in Portage, a volunteer job he continues today in his hometown of Melrose.

His next position was as a regional representative for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, working as a public contact for the state’s 30 chapters and its hundreds of volunteers – experience that is invaluable in his WWF role. It was then that LaBarbera contacted him to apply for the position at WWF.

Kamrowski credits his experiences at UWSP for pointing him in the right direction for a career in natural resources.

“UWSP is a natural resources hub that allows you to get exposure to so many different disciplines, state centers, groups and other organizations. It truly broadened my understanding,” he said. “On top of that, UWSP has name recognition and is the gold standard for producing quality natural resource professionals.”

One of his mentors was Brenda Lackey, an associate dean in the College of Natural Resources.

“As a student, Cody was a bundle of positive energy,” said Lackey. “He took care of so many opportunities on campus, both academic and extra-curricular. I doubt that his energy level has changed much since he graduated. His enthusiasm for school and life in general was contagious! The CNR is so proud of all of Cody’s many accomplishments. We are particularly proud of him in his new position with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.”

His advice to natural resources students is to stay hungry and seek out experiences for professional growth. He did so as a UWSP student by becoming a peer adviser and instructor for the College of Natural Resources Student Succes Center, working on sustainability efforts in Kenya during a study abroad trip and serving as a member of the university’s Green Fund Steering Committee.

One summer he interned for the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the Renewable Energy Markets Association in Washington D.C. He also met with representatives of the Environmental Protections Agency and the National Wildlife Federation – leading to future opportunities.

“The natural resources profession is a competitive field, but UWSP gives you a leg up,” he said. “Set yourself up for success by distinguishing yourself and staying motivated.”

Kamrowski is grateful for his professional journey. “It is what you make of it. Life is a learning adventure,” he said.

His goal from his college days remains in the forefront – the preservation of natural resources for the future. Recently he read “Seventh Generation Earth Ethics: Native Voices of Wisconsin,” which shares Native American philosophies and suggests we consider how to preserve the landscape for seven generations.

“That is my mindset,” he said. “Not only to preserve it for generations to come, but to inspire generations to come. I’d like to see more people engaged in the natural world. The outdoors is for everybody to enjoy.”

Written by UW-Stevens Point

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