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Homecoming for Siskiyou Field Institute director

The new executive director of the Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma has a doctorate in biological anthropology from Yale and studied endangered primates in the field in Africa and Indonesia. But Hogan Sherrow got his start in Rogue River, where he grew up and grew to love the outdoors through hiking, hunting and camping in Southern Oregon.

On his way toward that Ph.D., Sherrow earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology at University of Oregon and became a Fulbright Scholar. He studied gibbons in Indonesia and, for his Ph.D., wild chimpanzees in Uganda.

“When you study apes in the wild, you are automatically doing conservation work,” he notes. “The ape populations are critically endangered.”

After all his advanced degrees and research in the wilds of the world, Sherrow says, “I love it at my new work, and it feels good to come back home.”

In his conservation work around the world, Sherrow has worked with many children in schools and found them very curious about nature — and that’s a big part of what he wants to do in his new job, in partnership with the region’s colleges, universities and public schools.

“We want to expand research with more kids. Our program now is very successful and we have a lot of classes,” says Sherrow, who started on May 23.

“Wherever you do conservation and environmental education, you use the same principles and learn to work with local communities, teaching school-age children,” he says. “Kids are amazing, and they’re the same everywhere in the world, their openness to nature and learning.”

Sherrow says he plans to expand university partners beyond Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University and Humboldt State University and do more conservation research, and exploration of the Klamath-Siskiyou region, leading to more outdoor programs and on-site work.

Not as many species are endangered in the Klamath-Siskiyou as in Africa, he says, but “this ecosystem needs protection, as there are many species and populations unique to this area.”

Other areas the institute will focus on include forest restoration, archaeology, biology, ecology and geology.

Sherrow is a "climate leader" with the Climate Reality Project and will be expanding research on climate change at SFI.

"I have a vision of SFI as a model for natural history centers throughout the region, where community members can attend world-class programs, and researchers can study at one of the most diverse and unique temperate regions in the world," he says.

Sherrow says being back in Southern Oregon is “a professional dream come true.” His wife, Andria, is a native Ashlander and graduated from Ashland High School in 1992. She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology and education and is now a horse trainer. They have two daughters: Sage, 17, and Sortia, 9.

The Siskiyou Field Institute, situated on the 850-acre Deer Creek Center outside Selma, provides a home base to scientists, researchers, families and local folks who seek a deeper understanding of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.

Deer Creek Center, which SFI co-owns with Southern Oregon University, is at the gateway to the Illinois River canyon on the site of a historic ranch once frequented by actor John Wayne, who kept a horse here. Facilities include unlimited primitive camp sites, two yurts, a solar bathhouse and a covered picnic pavilion.

For more information about SFI, including a complete schedule of classes with details on times, prices and instructors, see www.thesfi.org or call 541-597-8530.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Hogan Sherrow