Mike Skuja is a wildlife biologist and human geographer with broad experience in conservation, climate change analyses, and rural livelihoods diversification strategies. He has analyzed social and environmental problems from both grassroots and policy angles, having worked at institutions such as the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation and Monitoring Centre, the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Peace Corps. Mike has consulted on State Department and USAID funded projects for both large and small non-profits, speaks fluent Spanish and is proficient in both Swahili and Portuguese. He is currently faculty at George Washington University’s Elliott School, where he teaches a self-designed graduate course entitled ‘Rural Development, Human Rights, and Biodiversity’. Mike is also a member of the IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (Work Theme on Governance, Equity, and Rights).
Mike grew up in Wisconsin where he fell in love with the wildlife and natural resources in his own backyard through navigating the rivers and lakes the state is blessed with. This passion led him to study ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was during this time that he first traveled abroad to Tanzania in 2000. Here his passion for reconciling human welfare with environmental protection developed after extensive fieldwork working in villages studying lion attacks on people and wildlife outside of Tarangire National Park. This experience gave him a deep respect and empathy for the people living in areas rich in natural resources but facing extreme poverty, challenged with direct conflict with predators like lions. Mike decided from this point onward to focus his attention to local ingenuity to overcome such environmental conflicts. This focus in conflict resolution was useful in future employment, whether training veterinarians in skills to help wildlife confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade or in citing solar technology in the desert to avoid sensitive natural and cultural resources. Inspired by the local scientists he met over the years, Mike formed CREE to invest in leaders first, because he feels the people and the local institutions they create out of their own dreams and vision are the most important element in the conservation equation.
CREE IS A REGISTERED 501(C)(3) TAX-DEDUCTIBLE NONPROFIT CHARITY