2021 Annual Election
2021 Annual Election
Voting is open through Friday, January 15, 2021. Voting has closed.
Education: BS, California State University, Bakersfield, Biology
Wildlife Society Activities:
Other Professional Affiliations:
Principal Professional Interests: Endangered Species Biology and Conservation; Ecology; Botany
Views: At the risk of sounding really old, my earliest memory of wildlife is from the infamous 1968 Santa Barbara oil spill. Being a child, I struggled to process the images of oiled birds that were showing up on the front page of my hometown newspaper. How could this happen at my beach playground? Not realizing what a complicated event I was witnessing, my 6-year old self thought, fix it now! After an elementary school summer enrichment program in San Diego County, I was certain that I wanted to make a difference, I just didn’t know how. Even with these experiences seemingly guiding me into an environmental profession, I followed a crooked path. After working my way through 6 years of college, it became apparent that civil engineering, business, and geology were not in the cards, so I took stock. I realized that I needed to choose a field that I was passionate about in order to cross the finish line. In my case, getting out of the shadow of other’s expectations and finding that passion finally set my path. However, even though I was happy, I wasn’t sure what I would do with my degree. I wish I had known then what I know now…
There are people of all ages and backgrounds who deserve to know how rewarding a career in wildlife can be. My passion now is to find ways to pass along knowledge, tools and resources so that others can benefit from this profession. To remain relevant in a changing world, I believe that our Section must seek ways to invite participation from our full spectrum of talent to reach an audience hungry for a purpose. It will take all of us to network to a cohort who already have an interest and some who would never have known about the wildlife profession without our outreach. Diversity of life experiences, background, and thought is needed to keep us moving forward.
Having participated in the Western Section leadership (San Joaquin Valley Chapter Rep), Section and Chapter events, and through leadership with other organizations, I believe that I am a strong candidate for the position of President-Elect of the Western Section. When I was first active in the Section, there were typically only a few women in the room. I’ve seen the Section grow and with it, participation by women – strong leaders have enabled that change while keeping our section on the forefront of the wildlife profession. We need to keep that momentum going; continue using our collective wisdom as a tool to increase our diversity rather than as a crutch to keep us from changing. In my opinion, the challenge is to be respectful of what got us here, without using “the way it’s always been” as an out.
I’m ready and willing to put in the time and effort to continue making our organization great. I believe that my personal struggle and the generosity that I’ve experienced from other wildlife professionals gives me a unique vision…One that will help the Western Section cast a wide net while we seek to remain relevant to students, early career professionals, and individuals on alternative paths who are seeking their passion. For our members, the Western Section continues to be uniquely positioned to create an atmosphere for developing, mentoring, collaborating, and leading in this field.
If you gotten this far, I appreciate your willingness to hear me out. Should I be elected, I will emphasize utilizing the lessons that we have learned in this tough year, chiefly, how really special it is to be in the field seeking new knowledge with like-minded individuals. I can’t wait for the day when we can get back to the synergy of in-person meetings, workshops, field experiences and just plain old conversation. I think that the Section and many Chapters have done an amazing job of pivoting into this virtual learning environment. We need to consider those experiences and the increased access they have provided even after we’re able to get back to the field. I would prioritize reviewing our approach to Section activities to make sure that we are finding new ways to encourage participation without compromising the rigor of our programs. I would like to explore partnerships to reach potential wildlifers at a younger age. Overall, my goals will be for the Western Section to continue improving opportunities for professional development to our members and broadening our reach, making us a stronger profession along the way.
Education: BS Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology UC Davis 2007; MS Biology, GIS New Mexico State University 2012; PhD Ecology, Conservation Management UC Davis 2018
Wildlife Society Activities:
Other Professional Affiliations:
Principal Professional Interests: Conservation Ecology, Wetland Ecology, Endangered Species Recovery, Mammalogy (Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse), Conservation Behavior
Views: My name is Katie Smith, a nominee for your 2021 President-Elect. I have been serving on the Western Section Board continuously since late 2014. While acting as the Representative to the Section for the Sacramento-Shasta Chapter from 2014 to 2017 I learned what a privilege and joy it was to be able to serve on the board. In the following years I worked with Don and others to develop the Western Section Diversity Committee, and served as a Chair of the Committee until I was asked to step in as the Student Affairs Chair in 2017. As the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee I have worked to expand our mentoring program and build tools to enable students to be more connected amongst their chapters, and with the Western Section Board, by utilizing social media and other networking technologies.
I have served on the Annual Meeting Planning Committee since I became involved with the Board. At our last several Annual Meetings I developed a number of activities that have brought our professionals and students together to network and foster relationships such as our Student-Professional Mixer and Career Booth, which have been enjoyed by many. Since Covid-19 put in-person networking off the table, my committee has developed a video-based Presentation, Workshop, and Fireside Chat series, which has given students the opportunity to receive practical advice from professionals about important topics like attending virtual conferences and student leadership, as well as providing them an outlet to connect virtually, and discuss the challenges of student life in general during these trying times.
When I ran for President-Elect in 2018 I proposed empowering our newly appointed Workshop Coordinator to tackle the challenge of developing workshops for emerging technologies and tools, and to bring our workshops online to avoid the potential pitfall of low local enrollment, and to better serve members outside of our core areas. Though that didn’t happen in the years between, Covid-19 was the catalyst that pushed the Workshop Coordinator and Professional Development Committee to go virtual, and the Western Section now has the opportunity to bring the most technologically advanced tools and techniques to the fingertips of members living in the most remote corners of our section boundaries. During the next year or two, this is likely to be one of the primary ways that the Western Section is able to serve its members.
I have planned many symposia, workshops, and technical trainings with TWS and other organizations, and using this experience I would support the Workshop Coordinator, Professional Development, and Student Affairs committees in providing training opportunities beyond the standard topics that we have been covering for years. As we rely ever more on advanced technologies to support our work in the field, in the classroom, and at the doorsteps of our legislators, it is imperative that we have the skills to make the most of them. Whether it is tracking individual animals, or preparing a digital media brief, the tools we use to support wildlife conservation have evolved, and our organization must continue to evolve with them.
Remote sensing, drones, micro-GPS tracking technology, open-source statistical software, cloud-based GIS, and other tools are allowing wildlife biologists to collect and analyze abundant data in ways that were not available in past decades. Ever wondered how to develop your own ArcGIS Collector library for digital geo-coded data collection? Wildlife genetics are developing at a rapidly accelerating pace. Metagenomics, eDNA, and SNPs aren’t just buzzwords, they are tools that are becoming more accessible to wildlife managers every day. We offer counseling on traditional paper resumes to students every year, but why not for online professional networking such as LinkedIn and Quora? The Western Section could be providing more training for these novel tools, and right now is a great time to support the Workshop Coordinator and Professional Development Committee in bringing these workshops directly to your home office through our successful Workshop Program.
If I am chosen to be your next President-Elect I would prioritize supporting our Workshop Program over the following years to provide our members with the access to safe, remote learning and professional development opportunities that are vital to keep our members’ individual professional development as well as wildlife management and conservation efforts progressing during this pandemic. I would also support the continued development of the programs and opportunities that our students need right now, as they navigate an uncertain future with few opportunities for field experience, professional engagement, and interpersonal networking. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to seeing you all virtually in February!
Proposal for Bylaws Amendment
The Western Section of The Wildlife Society last amended and approved changes to Bylaws on February 17, 2017. Bylaws describe the privileges and duties of members and set up the framework for the operation of the Section. Bylaws are amended by a majority vote of the Section members and are adopted when approved by the parent Society. In the course of operations, the Executive Board periodically identifies proposals for change. These changes were approved by the Executive Board to be submitted to the membership for approval on August 29, 2020.
Summary of Proposed Bylaws Changes
Major Votes (requiring separate membership votes)
- Make the Diversity Committee a Standing Committee and allow member nominations for consideration for Chair (Article IX, Section 2, Clause B); and make the Chair a Voting Board Member (Article IX, Section 3)
- Add a new Diversity Award as a standing award of the Section (Article XI, Section 1, Clause F)
- Add provision for Special Elections to be held at other times of the year (Article VI, Section 2. Clause F & Article VII, Section 1, Clause B)
- Allow for non-voting Board proxies to participate in Board meetings but not vote or count towards quorum Chapter Reps may be voting proxies if allowed in Chapter Bylaws ((Article VI, Section 3, Clause I; Article VI, Section 3, Clause J & Article VII, Section 1, Clause C).
- Clarified Board meeting by phone or email to conduct business and clarified allowance for email voting (Article VII, Section 1, Clause C; Article VIII, Section 1 & Article VIII, Section 1, Clause B).
- Clarify criteria and striking time limit for Early Career Professional members. (Article V, Section 2, Clause B, Item 6)
- Make Raymond F. Dasmann Award recipients a Section Honorary Member. (Article V, Section 1, Clause D; Article V, Section 2, Clause B, Item 7; Article XI, Section 1, Clause A)
- Add Open Records clause to support the Transparency Resolution (Article VIII, Section 4, Clause A.)
- Clarified the Financial Review Committee includes 2 Section members who are not members of the Executive Board; clarified ex officio members, and clarified the report of the Financial Review Committee is submitted to the Executive Board (Article IX, Section 2, Clause F).
- Added language to Removal from Office section for failing to vote in at least ½ of the votes between meetings (email or phone votes) (Article VI, Section 6, Clause A & Article VI, Section 6, Clause B).
- Added language regarding membership and reinstating membership for persons with Section disciplinary actions (Article V, Section 1, Article V, Section 8).
Other Minor Votes (voted on together)
- Adjust Section area to match Hawaii Chapter Bylaws (Article 1, Section 2)
- Added year of Section Incorporation in the State of California to title
- Specify Lifetime memberships may be paid in up to 3 installments (Article V, Section 2, Clause B, Item 2).
- Striking requirement for 3 years of paying regular dues for Retired members (Article V, Section 2, Clause B, Item 3)
- Striking unneeded gender references (Article VI, Section 6, Clause B & Article VI, Section 6, Clause C).
- Clarified records retention follows standard business practices (Article VIII, Section 4).
- Clarified communicating official statements to members (Article VII, Section 5).
- Struck reference to Guidelines for Conservation Affairs Activities document (Article VIII, Section 5).
- Clarified the Executive Board approves the contents of the Operations Manual (Article VIII, Section 6).
- Clarified the Western Wildlife Committee also promotes the publication (Article IX, Section 2, Clause K).
- Clarified the Section may present special awards not listed in the Bylaws (Article XI, Section 1).
- Clarified dues, resignations, and votes are submitted to the Section (Article V, Section 4, Article VI, Section 2, Article VI, Section 2, Clause B)
- Additional minor edits for clarity, formatting or grammar (various).
Major Votes 1 and 2: Diversity
The Section established an ad hoc Diversity Committee to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion issues within the Section. As an ad hoc committee, the Chair is a non-voting member of the Executive Board. Although this does not prevent the committee from recommending actions and ensuring the Board considers important issues, the Board feels (Vote 1) it is important to be able to have the Chair of the Diversity Committee be able to be on the record and vote officially on Western Section matters. In a related matter (Vote 2), the Diversity Committee recommends and the Board agrees that in order to further our efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Section that a standing award should be established to recognize those that make substantial contributions that benefit the wildlife profession in the Section.
Major Votes 3, 4 and 5: Board Operations
Vote 3 recognizes that there may be occasion to seek membership approval for Section business in special elections. The Bylaws provide for membership notice and length of voting for President-elect but does not directly discuss special elections that may be held at other times of the year. As proposed, special elections may be called with at least 10 days notice to membership, typically delivered via email. Voting must be open for at least 30 days.
Vote 4 clarifies when Board members can have a proxy attend a scheduled meeting when they cannot be present. We have recently been advised that the California Corporations Code does not allow director voting by proxy for non-profit corporations. As such, voting Board Members may not select a non-elected or non-appointed person to vote by proxy. Chapter Representatives may only have a voting proxy attend if expressly allowed in Chapter Bylaws in accordance with the California Corporation Code (e.g. proxy voting is an express responsibility for elected positions or officially appointed positions). Since much of the Board action during meetings involves discussion of potential actions to be taken on behalf of members, it is advantageous for the Board to have broad representation of member views. Thus, the bylaws change would allow members of the Executive Board to have a proxy attend a Board meeting to speak on their behalf or behalf of those they represent during discussion but not vote. Since they would not have a vote, they would not count towards meeting quorum, which must be met by voting members. The Executive Board usually has discretion to hold votes at times and places where all voting members can participate. The Board would operationalize a procedure for voting members to request postponement of a vote where they could not participate. However, proxy members could help further discussions during Board meetings to ensure all Chapters and members interests are considered.
Vote 5 provides for Board meeting by telephone, video conference and electronic voting. California Corporation Code and the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedures provide that meetings of the Board can occur electronically (telephone or video conference) provided all attending voting members can hear each other. These Bylaws changes clarify when and how the Executive Board can meet and conduct business. It allows that some routine non-controversial business may be conducted through electronic discussion and vote provided that any voting Board member may object, requiring tabling the motion for a telephone, videoconference or in person meeting.
Major Vote 6: Clarify criteria for Early Career Professional membership category
Vote 6 proposes to clarify the early career professional membership category by adding an additional criterion of generally less than two years in a full-time position; striking the requirement of another criteria to have been a recently graduated student; and striking a limitation of generally not to exceed five years. Also clarifies the reliance on the honor system to allow members to self-identify if they meet the requirements and expect members to pay regular dues and regular fees for events when they are financially capable. Note that some events, grants, or scholarships may apply additional criteria for reduced frees or eligibility as an early career professional.
Major Vote 7: Confer Honorary Member status to recipients of the Section’s Raymond F. Dasmann Award
Vote 7 would automatically confer Section Honorary Member status to recipients of the Raymond F. Dasmann Award, the Western Section’s highest honor. Honorary Members are exempt from paying annual Section dues, but must still pay relevant TWS or Chapter dues. This would apply retroactively to past recipients of the Dasmann Award.
Major Votes 8 and 9: Transparency of Operations
Vote 8 implements the 2018 Board approved Resolution on Transparency (found at: http://tws-west.org/docs/policies/Resolution_on_Transparency.pdf). The proposed Bylaws changes add clear Open Records direction to allow members reasonable access to decision-making behind Section actions and Section business. The Section is mindful of its obligation to protect personally identifiable information and confidential information related to personnel and contract matters and sensitive information conducted during formal Executive Session. In addition, a bylaws change is proposed to require that members of the Financial Review Committee be Section members who are not also current members of the Executive Board to better ensure an independent and unbiased review. This change will require willing and competent members to serve on this committee. Vote 9 clarifies the operations of the Financial Review Committee to require at least two Section members who are not current members of the Executive Board to better insure independent review. It also requires that findings and conclusions are reported to the entire Executive Board.
Major Votes 10 and 11: Disciplinary actions
Vote 10 adds the condition of failure to participate in voting to the section on Removal from Office for Officers and Voting Board Members. This helps ensure that all represented voices are reflected in Board decisions and better holds Board members accountable to their representative constituencies. Vote 11 recognizes that if the Section makes a disciplinary finding as a result of a violation of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct, that membership in the Section may be restricted.
Other Minor Votes
Thirteen other changes proposed by the Executive Board were determined to be more minor in nature and would be voted to approve or reject as a bundle. A brief statement on the purpose is provided above in the description of the change and in the full markup of the Bylaws.
Twelve separate votes will be required for these actions. Votes 1 through 11 are for each of the Major vote items and Vote 12 is on the batch of minor items. If approved by membership, the changes will be effective upon approval by TWS.