(Image from ShawnHeflick.com)
Alumnus Shawn Heflick received his master’s degree in conservation biology and marine biology from Florida Tech and has been traveling the world sharing his love of nature ever since. He has been featured on multiple media channels, including PBS Nature’s Python Invasion, the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, Smithsonian Channel’s Titaniboa, Time Magazine, Time Magazine for Kids, National Geographic and currently a host of Nat Geo WILD’s The Python Hunters.
How did you get started as a TV Host and biologist?
I did a documentary with Nigel Marven for PBS Nature on the python issue in the Everglades, and also worked with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission to develop a program for their removal. These two things ultimately lead to a show with Nat Geo WILD.
What was your most memorable adventure being a TV Host and biologist?
As a TV host…I guess getting grabbed by a python on the crotch of my shorts while I laughed and danced around with it dangling from my nether parts…all the while on camera. As a biologist, I have been fortunate enough to travel the world to places like the Komodo Islands, Borneo, Sumatra, Africa and the Amazon doing what I love, what I am passionate about, and to share it with the world.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Hearing from kids all over the world tell me about their passion for wildlife and their dreams to be a biologist or wildlife champion.
What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
Hard work, passion, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and you can’t be squeamish about mud, goop, insects or danger.
What advice would you give to students considering pursuing a biology degree?
If biology is your passion…if it is what drives you…then don’t let anything stand in your way. The fields, streams, woods and oceans can be your office. Identify what field makes you jazzed and live your dream!
What was your most memorable experience while at Florida Tech?
I always enjoyed the field work and volunteered a lot of time to helping professors and other grad students with their field research. Probably the most memorable was going with Doc Morris to the Smoky Mountains. Doc was a great graduate advisor, mentor and friend.
Why did you select Florida Tech and what did you like most about the program?
I selected Florida Tech for its conservation biology program, and as crazy as it sounds now, because it was close to the ocean, in a sub-tropical area, and it offered a wide range of opportunities to get out into the field. I’m a hands-on, get-muddy-and-wet kind of guy.
You can catch Shawn on The Python Hunters Fridays at 10Pm on Nat Geo WILD. We’ll be watching, will you?