2019 Annual Election
Voting is open through February 1, 2019.
After hanging around the fringes of TWS for several years, I was motivated by the 2016 political climate to step up and take a more active role by volunteering as the Section Chair for the Conservation Affairs Committee (CAC). As a wildlife biologist working in national park systems in the U.S. and Suriname, South America, I have learned the importance of communicating science to the public, particularly affirming that facts are facts and that facts matter. Among the most common comments and questions that I am called to address as your CAC Chair is: “How do I avoid conflicts of interest as a biologist working for either a government agency or a consulting firm but who has a strong concern about some environmental policy decision?” There is a difference between activism, advocacy, and objective opinion. In CAC, we strive for the ‘objective opinion’ end of the spectrum, where we use our scientific knowledge to inform and weigh in on various topics in environmental policy – ranging from decisions to reduce environmental protections for National Monuments or alter the text of the Endangered Species Act. I believe that the intersection of science and policy is a critical area to bring attention to, and that our membership be instilled with the confidence and tools to navigate this intersection successfully.
I find it both exciting and alarming that scientists of all disciplines came together in the March for Science – emerging out of our laboratories and field sites to speak up about the importance of science, particularly where it intersects with policies that govern funding and regulations for research, resource management, climate resiliency planning, species and habitat protection, and basic quality-of-life needs like clean water and air. I am inspired by the many stories that I have read of scientists stepping into leadership positions – to ensure that science is represented in the classroom as well as the boardroom, on the City Council as well as the halls of Congress. Representation matters; diversity is the fabric of not only our earth’s ecosystems but also our scientific community. I firmly believe that each us – whether we are mammalogists or ornithologists, consultants or academic researchers, regulators or planners – have a voice that matters in this organization.
I am motivated to inspire and empower the next generation of scientific leaders. Every year, as an ongoing component of fulfilling the third goal of Peace Corps (which is teaching Americans about the place where I lived and worked), I enjoy going into classrooms throughout the Sacramento region, teaching school children of all ages about the rainforest ecosystem of Suriname and the people who inhabit it. I thrive on seeing the fire ignite in the eyes of youth as I describe the rainforest and methods that scientists use to study its plants and wildlife. I am elated when I see so many hands eagerly raised when I ask the question: “Who wants to be a wildlife biologist when they grow up?” I see our Section and Chapters as an ideal tool for motivating the next generation to pursue science in their studies and careers. I believe we can continue to grow our outreach programs to support students in the Campus Chapters, to foster networking, and to mentor the next generation of scientific leaders of our Section.
As your President-Elect, I would bring my perspective and experience to leading our Section by helping us, as scientists, to navigate the intersection of our professions with the policies that affect the wildlife and habitats that we hold dear, encouraging each of us to communicate that facts and objective opinions that we are trained to seek out, and strengthening this Section as we inspire and empower the next generation of scientists.
Although I started my education in civil engineering and then geology, I finished in biology and now am the principal biologist and owner of a biological consulting company. Having served on the board of the Western Section (San Joaquin Valley Chapter Rep), I am ready and eager to stand for election to the position of President-Elect of the Western Section. My primary activities until 2017 were on a local level, and centered within the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas. I have learned so much through my involvement with the San Joaquin Chapter and have found it rewarding to work with such a great group of wildlife professionals. My experience has given me a bit of an eclectic collection of education opportunities and work experiences. I guess you could say that I’ve worn many hats throughout my career. In particular, during my education, I struggled to find an educational path that would allow me to focus on something that I truly had a passion for. I am so thankful to my first supervisor and mentor in this field who encouraged me to consider finishing my education in biology. Where I stand in my career now, I am looking back at that struggle, and have a desire to provide support and assistance in any way that I can to students and new professionals who are trying to find that passion.Serving our members and each other through providing professional development, sharing research, experiences, and professional advice is an amazing opportunity and a big responsibility. The next generation within and outside of our profession depends on all of us to be prudent and daring, in passing on a legacy of decisions based on solid scientific inquiry. While society struggles with new technology and new ideas, we in the scientific community need to express our ideas clearly and exercise practices that are transparent and ethical at all times. Honest conversations, both formal and informal, are the cornerstone of moving forward.Given the messages being conveyed in our broader society, it is incumbent on us to be purposeful in how we act and what we teach. To remain relevant, we, as a group of professionals must be inclusive and welcoming to all who share an interest in our wildlife resources and finding practical ways to advance our profession. That is the only path to understanding of the resources we steward and applying the knowledge that is available and is yet to come. The Western Section has a unique opportunity to contribute to that ever-changing “marketplace of ideas” because of the solid foundation set by those who have come before and contributions by those we have yet to come.
With your support, I will continue to encourage the Western Section to support students and young professionals, call on the vast experience of our members, and help our Section to remain relevant in a changing world without compromising our principles.
It is the job of members of The Wildlife Society to conserve and manage all wildlife. Each member brings a unique set of skills and perspective to this mission. Some have the responsibility of making decisions about how habitat should be managed to best meet the needs of a community of wildlife populations. Others may conduct research that allows managers to improve our understanding of how wildlife populations work or a population’s habitat needs so managers are better informed when they make decisions. Still others may have a more political role, working at the interface between government, NGOs, universities and other members of the general public. Finally, of course, many of us have the important mission of training the next generation of wildlife scientists and managers. A critical role of The Wildlife Society, and The Western Section, is providing a vehicle for bringing together and coordinating these various missions in the interest of wildlife.I am approaching the end of a 35 year career as an educator and researcher and seeking ways that I can continue to contribute to the wildlife profession. After completing my graduate degree at the University of California Davis, I worked for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage Alaska for a year before starting a 16-year tenure at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. During my last three years in Fairbanks I served as the Director of the Institute of Arctic Biology. In 2001, I and my family moved to Reno, Nevada to begin what has been an extremely rewarding period at the University of Nevada Reno.Most of my research career and that of my graduate students has focused on environmental and anthropogenic drivers of the dynamics of wildlife populations, especially waterfowl and, more recently, sage-grouse. This work has included topics as diverse as the impact of winter habitat (eelgrass beds) on the subsequent reproductive performance of black brant, human harvest and gamebird population dynamics, and most recently impacts of transmission lines and livestock grazing on sage-grouse population dynamics. I have mentored 32 graduate students who pursued research questions like those I describe above. Many of these students work for state and federal agencies, and universities, and are themselves, making important contributions to the conservation of wildlife. I view these students as among my most important contributions to the wildlife profession and I was awarded the Western Section’s Barrett A. Garrison award in 2014 in recognition of my mentoring of students.
While most of my career has been in academia I have always made service a high priority. I served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Wildlife twice, and I recently served as Deputy Editor for the Auk for five years. I served as President of the Nevada Chapter in 2011. I have served on several committees for both the Wildlife Society and the American Ornithologists’ Union. I am a Fellow of the Wildlife Society. In addition to these more formal duties, I have devoted a substantial amount of time to ad hoc conservation and management activities. I drafted research protocols for California Energy Commission Wind Energy policy Technical Review Team and for the Oversight Committee of the Sage-grouse Research Collaborative, National wind Coordinating Collaborative. I served on the Nevada Governor’s Sage-grouse Task Force and more recently on the Technical Review Group for Nevada’s Conservation Credit System for Greater Sage-grouse, and the Expert Review Team, Habitat Suitability Modeling for Greater Sage-grouse in Nevada. I have been actively involved with the Pacific Flyway in issues of waterfowl conservation and management. Aside from mentoring students these conservation and management related activities have been the most rewarding in my career.
We are in challenging times for the wildlife profession with threats to wildlife coming from multiple directions. The Western Section has an important role to play in addressing these challenges. I would look forward to bringing my administrative experience, my experience with numerous conservation issues, and my experience in interacting with NGOs and state and federal agencies to the Western Section. It is essential that we continue to improve the application of science to conservation, mentor students train professionals to this end. I would look forward very much to helping guide the Western Section forward.