As a child, Hilary Swain spent her days “outdoors in nature” in her native Aberdeen, Scotland and then in Northern England. So, it seemed natural for Swain to grow up and manage a world-renowned biological station. Archbold Biological Station, says Swain, “represents everything I believe in: great science, active conservation and education.”
Since 1995, she has overseen the activities of Archbold located in the northern headwaters of the Everglades near Lake Placid, FL. She directs the activities of 50 scientists and staff and manages 20,000 acres of land including pristine scrub habitat and a 3,000-head cattle ranch. A powerful advocate for science-based conservation, Swain builds enduring relationships among scientists, environmentalists, local, state and federal agencies, and Florida landowners.
Armed with a doctorate degree from the University of Newcastle in England, Swain came to Florida and taught at the Florida Institute of Technology. While at Florida Tech, she was asked to take over as director of Archbold. “My life,” she says “has been a series of opportunities that I’ve grabbed on to.”
She describes herself as “passionate and energetic” and admits that she works at “warp speed.”
As the mother of two children she says of balancing her personal and professional life, “Juggle is the right word. Balance is not. You are always out of balance.”
Swain sees her legacy as a living legacy with “generations of students who have received training at Archbold and gone on to have great careers; land management that has been transformed, and environmental areas that been acquired and protected.”