FORT STEWART, Ga. - Ever since he was 6-years-old, wildlife biologist and Garrison Commander Award of Excellence category two winner, John Macey knew what he wanted to do in life.

“I’m living my dream,” said Macey. “It may not seem like a big dream to some but it’s what I enjoy doing. When you improve the habitat, you leave a lasting imprint on the environment.”

The GCAOE award of excellence is awarded on behalf of the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander to recognize exceptional individual performance.

His supervisor recognized his performance by recommending him for the directorate of public works award and eventually the GCAEO.

“It could have went to anyone because there is nothing that I do that does not involve others … it’s a team effort,” Macey said. “I really enjoy what I do and if a person loves what they do in turn they are more successful. That is a measurement for happiness.”

Macey, with the directorate of public works environmental division, supports the Army’s mission on the installation by managing threatened and endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise to name a few.

“We work to reduce training restrictions allowing Soldiers to go into the field and concentrate on their mission and not worry about a certain species,” Macey said. “We restore and improve the local habitat which supports the Army’s mission.”

He spends about 60 percent of his time out in the field and at times counts the number of active boroughs of the gopher tortoise and runs statistical analysis on the information.

Macey and his team members also run into several hundred eastern indiginous snakes in our area.

“The indigo is the only snake that breeds in the winter,” lamented Macey. “We capture them, insert a tag so we can scan and monitor their information. We have about three to five hundred of that type of snake in our area.”

Macey credits his mother with introducing him to wildlife through animal books as a child and he has always been intrigued by what some may call a nuisance.

Because of his enthusiasm for wildlife, he went on to earn his bachelor of arts in wildlife science and a graduate degree in wildlife science.

When not outside tracking endangered species on the installation, he and his teammates are in the classroom teaching children about his passion or offering Environmental Compliance Officer Threatened Endangered Species courses.

He willingly admits that most school age children are intrigued by snakes and that is the species that he talks about often during presentations.

“People are either fascinated or terrified of snakes,” said Macey. “Before coming to this job, I too was fascinated by snakes.” Macey added, “Snakes have gotten a bad rep” and people mostly want to kill them not knowing that they provide protection for the environment such as eating pesky rodents like mice.

As a wildlife biologist, Macey and the Environmental Division of the Directorate of Public Works have earned numerous environmental protection awards because of their focus on the environment and Soldiers.

“The Army helps to protect our freedom we have come to enjoy and we help to improve the environment for our Soldiers… making a lasting impact,” Macey said.