Austin was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA where he grew up fishing and camping in the Appalachian mountains. He knew he wanted to work with wildlife from a young age and at fourteen started volunteering at the Knoxville Zoo. As a volunteer, he did various jobs around the zoo ranging from education to helping take care of the birds used for the bird show. After high school, he entered the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to study Wildlife and Fisheries Management. Since entering college he has traveled the world and working on programs that include studying genetics in the Galapagos, African wild dog and cheetah research in Namibia, jaguar research in Belize, and now volunteering for the Urban Caracal Project in South Africa! He has also worked with elephants as an Intern at the Knoxville Zoo and interned with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program. He is confident that the experiences he gains from working with the Urban Caracal Project will put him on a path to helping him achieve his goals of finding mutually beneficial solutions that allow for humans and wild carnivores to coexist in an urbanizing world.