Shan Burson ’83, an acoustic ecologist for the National Park Service, is featured in USA Today's Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Green Living.Shan Burson ’83, an acoustic ecologist for the National Park Service, is featured in USA Today's Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Green Living.

We talked to six who are helping to keep our air and water clean, protect animals, and preserve our open spaces — and learned how they got their jobs. Want to follow in their footsteps? Study up and you, too, could become an eco-hero.

Shan Burson

Acoustic ecologist, National Park Service

Burson, 55, spends his days recording animal and human sounds in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in Wyoming. “Soundscapes are a resource, just like wildlife, or plants, or air quality,” he says. His work started when the National Park Service wanted to measure the noise impact of the 80,000 snowmobiles that zipped through Yellowstone each winter.

Acoustic ecologist Shan Burson ’83 tells Green Living Magazine, “I think a lot of people don't come to national parks for the natural sounds, but ... it has an importance to people that they don't realize."Acoustic ecologist Shan Burson ’83 tells Green Living Magazine, “I think a lot of people don't come to national parks for the natural sounds, but ... it has an importance to people that they don't realize."“When I first collected data in the winter of 2002-03, you could hear snowmobiles 90 percent of the time,” he says. “But since the park service in 2013 released new rules governing snowmobile use, you hear snowmobiles less than half of the time in the busiest corridor. I’m happy that some of the data I collected went toward that.”

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