I am a professor of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences with the University of Maryland Department of Environmental Science and Technology. From 1977 to 1984 I was a biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, working with coastal river enhancement of striped bass populations. I have seen the best of both worlds from a state agency and an academic perspective. My B.S. in zoology (1975) and M.S. in wildlife biology (1977) came from Clemson University and my Ph.D. in biology (1984) from the University of South Carolina. I also have an MBA from Salisbury University (2005) and an MDiv in ethics from Southeastern Baptist Theological University (2011). Since 1984, my roles have included being a researcher, teacher, extension specialist, and administrator, including department chair, research center director, and research associate dean. My current research is in ecological and natural resource ethics. I advise graduate students and teach numerous courses in fish and wildlife science, management, sustainability, research methodology, and ethics. I have been fortunate to publish over 120 peer-reviewed articles and extension fact sheets and edit or coedit several books, including the AFS publication Culture and Propagation of Striped Bass and Its Hybrids. I am currently working on a fourth book, Ecological and Natural Resource Ethics. I have collaborated in Egypt and Great Britain teaching aquaculture and studying ecological ethics and served on an international committee examining strategies for managing coastal ground stocks of nonsalmonid fishes with colleagues from the United States, Canada, and Norway. I have served on committees reviewing the national fish hatchery program and as a member of the board of directors for the Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center at the federal level and on stock assessment committees at the state level and as a scientific representative on two councils: the state of Maryland’s Aquaculture Council and Harmful Algal Bloom Council. I am also a Fellow with the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists.
As a life member and certified fisheries scientist, I have been active in the AFS since joining the Society in 1974. In essence, I grew up within the Society and attribute my professional milestones to the friends, colleagues, and peers with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over my 39-year involvement in the AFS. I have been a long-standing member of several Society sections but have been most active in the Fish Culture, Genetics, Physiology, and Education Sections. I am honored to have served as president of the Southern Division, the Fish Culture and Genetics sections, and the South Carolina Chapter. These roles afforded me the opportunity to serve three times on the Society’s Governing Board and once on its Management Committee. Other roles in the AFS have included being a journal associate editor and a member of too many divisional and section standing and technical committees to cover here. Most recently, I cochaired and moderated a half-day symposium at the 2013 Annual Meeting.
Before committing to be considered for this important AFS leadership position, I had a conversation with our new executive director, Doug Austen, about his vision for the Society. I also reread the Vision Statements of our current AFS officers. In both cases I found myself wondering what value I could bring if I were to represent our membership and simultaneously complement the efforts we already have underway. If I have the privilege of receiving your vote, I would like to take a two-tiered approach to integrating my contribution to the Society’s mission and vision.
First, we must remember our roots. I hope to ensure that we remain relevant to our state and federal agency members. As I talk with my agency colleagues there is a sense of declining, meaningful engagement with the AFS. The AFS with which I grew appears to have weaned itself from supporting agencies for professional development. No doubt the economy is a driver, but there is a realized cost–benefit value to professional development. I desire to work with our Fisheries Administration Section, other agency directors, and our divisional leadership (including technical committees) to ensure that we are providing the value that helps us both turn the tide and regain whatever lost relevance we may have incurred.
Second, how can we help our society’s future, especially our student members, be prepared to enter a career that does not have the traditional boundaries that my generation grew up experiencing? Because of today’s integrated, multidisciplinary approach to science and management, the answers we seek have only grown more complex. I would like the AFS to establish core linkages with more professional groups, beyond what we already have with other international fisheries societies. Other societies, such as The Wildlife Society, the Society of American Foresters, the World Aquaculture Society, American Society for Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and the Coastal Estuarine Research Federation all have interests similar to those of the AFS. Almost all of these professional organizations put a premium on students, student activities, and young professionals. Coupling these interests with other overlapping discipline concerns, we can capitalize on the opportunity to broaden our capacity to develop united fronts on issues important to us all. We owe this effort to our students, our members, and our profession.
I thank the Nominating Committee for the confidence expressed in my nomination, and I consider it the highest privilege and honor to be able to serve my society as one of your national officers. I would appreciate your vote.