Rick was a Curator for the Fort Worth Zoo’s Department of Herpetology for twenty years, before moving to the zoo’s Conservation & Science Department in 2000 as a Conservation Biologist. He served on the Board of Directors for the Turtle Conservancy from 2007 - 2012.
Rick helped organize the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group, which he helped lead from 1997 - 2008, and developed the International Iguana Foundation. In 2001, Rick organized an IUCN Asian Turtle Workshop - Developing Conservation Strategies through Captive Management - that led to the formation of the Turtle Survival Alliance as an IUCN partnership network for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises. Rick served as the co-chair of the TSA from 2001 to 2009 and as its President from 2009 to the present. Under his leadership, the TSA has grown into an independent NGO that now supports or manages turtle research and conservation programs in Asia, Madagascar, Belize, and South America.