2015 Awards

2015 Award Recipients

The following awards were presented at the TWS-WS Banquet on Wednesday January 28, 2015 by TWS-WS President Natasha Dvorak.

The Raymond F. Dasmann Award for the Professional of the Year went to Howard O. Clark. Howard is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with nearly 20 years of professional wildlife and research experience. His work as a researcher focuses on the ecosystems of Northern and Central California, the Mojave Desert, the Bay Area, and includes extensive baseline mammalian inventories, surveys focused on rare animals, habitat assessment, radio telemetry, and long-term ecological studies on several endangered species. He regularly works with the western burrowing owl, San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, salt marsh harvest mouse, and the Mohave ground squirrel. He is a peer-reviewer for the journals California Fish and Game and The Canadian Field-Naturalist and has reviewed manuscripts for Western North American Naturalist, Mammalian Biology, African Journal of Food Science, and Cities and the Environment. He was also instrumental in launching Western Wildlife, the Western Section’s revised, peer-reviewed technical journal.

The Conservationist of the Year Award – The Nature Conservancy, founded in 1951, is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. They address the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale with a membership of over one million. They have protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide including 1.5 million acres in California and >200,000 acres in Hawaii. They are also working in Nevada to protect and restore both the Truckee and Walker River watersheds as well as forging numerous partnerships to find conservation solutions throughout the Western Section’s geographic range.

The Chapter of the Year Award went to the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. 2014 marks another outstanding year for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. As their Board grew, so too did the ideas and opportunities to engage their membership in new directions. They continued to offer a diversity of activities that facilitated social networking, professional development, Student and community outreach including numerous mixers, field trips, and workshops. They also hosted the first annual Gourmet Greens and Beasts Feast with the local CNPS Chapter which mingled wildlife biologists with botanists.

The James D. Yoakum Award went to Rhys M. Evans. Rhys’ contributions to Western Section are well known — Public Information Committee Chair 2001- 2004, President 2009, Professional Development Committee Chair 2004-2014. Many of you know him as our “Sergeant of Arms” or selling raffle tickets, from Section-wide Certification workshops, pre-conference symposia and workshops, or as a volunteer chef at field workshops.

He contributes time annually to TWS Quiz Bowl, and creates challenges among chapters co-sponsored Annual Conference fundraising support. His service is not always employer underwritten — he is a civilian biologist currently working with the U.S. Air Force. He was instrumental in starting a Military Lands Working Group within The Wildlife Society, officially incorporated in 2014. Rhys is a Certified Wildlife Biologist.

He remains a member of the Professional Development Committee, though he’s relinquished his chairmanship and vote. We hope his new-found free time finds him literally riding a few new roller-coasters.

The TWSWS Distinguished Service Award went to Bradley Valentine. TWS recognizes Bradley Valentine citing 30 years of Western Section service that includes Transaction Editor, Secretary/Treasurer, Past-President (without having been elected President!) Chapter Representative (San Francisco Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley), and Western Section Representative to TWS Council. Brad is a Certified Wildlife Biologist. In addition Brad has received both the Raymond F. Dasmann and James D. Yoakum Awards — the latter for outstanding, long-term service, support, and commitment to the Western Section. Brad remains a tremendous resource to the Section, attending TWS-WS annual conference each year, often judging student presentations and serving on the annual conference planning team. Even more impressive, he has attended nearly all Business Meetings – something that surely deserves special recognition by itself!

The Raymond F. Dasmann Award for the Professional of the Year went to Howard Clark.
The TWSWS Distinguished Service Award went to Bradley Valentine.
The Conservationist of the Year Award went to The Nature Conservancy.
The Chapter of the Year Award went to the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.
The James D. Yoakum Award was bestowed upon Rhys Evans.


Congratulations to the winners of the Student Presentation Contest for Best Poster and Best Oral Presentation!


  • 1st Place – Julia S. Ersan, California State University East Bay/USGS, “Neonate prey preferences of giant gartersnakes (Thamnophis gigas) from the Sacramento Valley of California: Implications of an exotic diet for a threatened nati”
  • 2nd Place – Sarah J. Hegg, University of Nevada Reno, “Correlates of community structure and diversity of small mammal communities in Great Basin sagebrush habitats”
  • 3rd Place – Stephanie D. Leja, Humboldt State University, “The Effects of Habitat Restoration and Sea Level Rise on Breeding Western Snowy Plovers in Coastal Northern California”


  • 1st Place – Matt P. Brinkman, Institute for Wildlife Studies, “Taste Aversion, Trapping, and Translocation: an overview of predator management for two protected beach-nesting birds in southern California”
  • 2nd Place – Camille D. Boag, California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, “Locomotory performance of a kangaroo rat in a habitat dominated by a non-native grass”
  • 3rd Place – Stephanie D. Leja, Humboldt State University, “The Response of Breeding Western Snowy Plovers to Habitat Restoration Evaluated by Resource Selection Function Analysis in Coastal Northern California.”