Peter Bangs | Juneau
Assistant Director, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

“To be successful in leadership endeavors, author Ronald Heifetz emphasizes the importance of creating a holding environment to contain and manage the heat generated by contentious issues. The Alaska Salmon Fellows program seems to be a great opportunity to do exactly that — create a holding environment in which a group of people with diverse backgrounds can learn from one another and work together on some of our most pressing challenges related to salmon conservation in Alaska.”


The perspective Peter Bangs is most interested in bringing to the Alaska Salmon Fellows cohort is a strong sense of urgency. “My interest stems,” he explains, “from a growing belief that our most daunting challenges when it comes to sustainability of salmon are simply beyond the scope of any one person, organization, or government agency.”

Peter began his fisheries career as a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Innoko National Wildlife Refuge near McGrath.  The experience provided an introduction to Alaska and the subsistence lifestyle, working with local high school interns who taught him about Athabascan culture and local flora and fauna. He tagged along with local residents as they checked their nets and fish wheels, and he also had the privilege of helping with a science camp that hosted kids from all over the Kuskokwim River and Lower Yukon River.


After receiving a B.S. and M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona, Peter moved to Alaska in 2001.  He was hired by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 2002, spending his first seven years with the Division of Sport Fish and then moving to the Division of Commercial Fisheries in 2009 as Program Manager of the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund.  In 2013, he was promoted to Assistant Director.  Peter was selected for a fellowship with the National Conservation Leadership Institute from 2015-16 and served as a Peer Coach in the program the following year.

Peter sees the Alaska Salmon Fellow program as an invaluable opportunity for personal growth, as well as a unique chance to participate in a shared experience and develop relationships with other Alaskans who care about salmon issues. “I believe that building a diverse network of individuals and learning from one another is paramount to making progress on salmon conservation initiatives.”