Ask most kids what they want to be when they grow up and they will often list jobs like astronaut, movie star or the lead singer of a rock band. Most of the time those career choices have long since changed by the time those kids grow up. That was not the case for University of Nevada, Reno alumnus Caleb McAdoo, deputy director of operations for the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Maybe it’s because he was born and raised in Nevada, but McAdoo states that he knew he wanted to work for NDOW since he was 5 years old. It may have helped that he has very strong family ties to the state of Nevada with his mother, former Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Board Chair Cathy McAdoo, and his father, James “Kent” McAdoo, who was a beloved Extension educator and who sadly passed away in 2018.
“My dad worked in natural resources and so from an early age, at 5, I knew I wanted to be in natural resources, too,” said McAdoo.
Hard work and tenacity made his vision a reality.
“When I graduated from high school I applied for the James Lathrop and Wayne Capurro Memorial Internship,” said McAdoo. “It was a working scholarship with NDOW, sponsored by Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Nevada Wildlife Record Book. I was awarded the internship and started working part time for NDOW right out of high school and continued working with NDOW through college while at the University of Nevada, Reno. The agency felt like home since day one and it really solidified my career path.”
From 2002 to 2006, McAdoo worked part time as a conservation aid while he attended the University. He studied wildlife ecology and conversation biology with a minor in criminal justice, as he originally wanted to be a game warden.
“My advice for current students is that you never know where the world will take you,” said McAdoo. “Enjoy the time now as you get your education and think big.”
After graduating McAdoo spent nearly three years in private consulting, before returning to NDOW full time as a game biologist. He held that position for eight years until 2017 when he became a regional supervisor for the Habitat Division, working on restoration projects and habitat projects throughout the eastern part of the state.
“I’m very fortunate,” said McAdoo. “With each position I’ve held at the agency, I’ve been exposed to slightly different experiences and each position has been really interesting. From doing the field work, making meaningful implementation on the ground, and then stepping into leadership roles and trying to guide the bigger picture and agency direction … it’s all equally as exciting.”
NDOW helps to manage nearly 900 species and their habitats in this very diverse state, and that is exactly what McAdoo enjoys the most about the work he does.
“There is incredible diversity in the state from southern Nevada with the Mojave up to northeastern Nevada … the wildlife and habitats are very cool,” said McAdoo. “Having the opportunity to speak on behalf of those nearly 900 different species and working with people who are so passionate about wildlife ecology and conservation is all very rewarding. I enjoy being able to interact on species’ behalf and weighing the interests that occur throughout the state, working through challenges and opportunities.”
McAdoo officially transitions into his role of deputy director of operations on Oct. 2, 2023 and is looking forward to getting an even more in-depth look at the agency from the new position.
“We have a really good department right now with great leadership and really good staff,” said McAdoo.