Sam Hamilton was born and raised in Starkville, Mississippi where he developed a life-long passion for the outdoors. He caught his first fish at age five on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi and by age 15 he was banding waterfowl as an employee of that refuge's Youth Conservation Corps. Hamilton worked with a number of Service programs, at every level of the organization, from tackling the difficult conservation issues of the Texas Hill Country; to the enormous challenges of restoring the Everglades; to Headquarters in Washington. As the Regional Director in the Southeast, he oversaw the many wetland and habitat restoration projects necessary after the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. All combined, Hamilton's experiances gave him a deep knowledge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its mission. By the end of his 30-year career, Hamilton had risen to serve as the Director of the Service. In that role, he was visionary in pioneering how the FWS would address climate change and took a lead in initiatves to attract more youth to the outdoors-the source of his own vocation. Hamilton's sense of the mission of the Service was summed up in testimony delivered to the U.S. Senate where he noted: "It is not an exaggeration to say as wildlife goes, so goes the nation.