Don Field completed his higher education degrees at the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University where he earned his doctorate in Rural Demography and Rural Sociology. He spent two years at South Dakota State University where he began his research on what is today known as human dimensions of wildlife and initiated studies on visitor use and public land management at the Badlands. In 1970, Don joined the National Park Service in the newly created Cooperative Park Studies Unit at the University of Washington, College of Forest Resources.
After four years, he assumed the positions of Regional Chief Scientist, and Associate Regional Director of Science and Technology in the Pacific Northwest Region. In 1983, he returned to the NPS research ranks as senior scientist stationed at the Oregon State University C.P.S. U. During his tenure as science administrator in the Pacific Northwest Region he along with Jean Matthews created Pacific Park Science, which later evolved into Park Science. He started Park Service scientist/manager meetings to bring together the key staff involved with the conduct and commissioning of research. This communication vehicle helped to establish a respectful partnership in the application of research findings to park management problems.