Like many of my peers, I entered the fisheries profession in the 1970s because I love to fish, and while taking a class at the University of California–Davis I discovered that I could have a career working with fish. Over a nearly 40-year career that has taken me from Davis to the Universitsnapy of Idaho, to the state of Montana, and eventually to Virginia Tech, that passion for fishing and fisheries as both vocation and avocation continued to grow. Countless times in my career I have marveled that I get paid to do incredibly interesting things, often in spectacular places. After earning my B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Idaho, I worked for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a fisheries biologist, regional manager, and chief of the Fisheries Management Bureau. I always enjoyed the public interaction aspects of my jobs in Montana, and in mid-career I made the leap from the agency to academia, earning my doctorate and refocusing on human dimensions, policy, and leadership development for natural resource professionals. I currently serve as interim department head of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and as director of our College of Natural Resources and Environment Leadership Institute. I am approaching the end of my second career and looking forward to my third career as a part-time trainer and consultant in leadership development while I indulge my fly-fishing passion more frequently. I am honored to be considered as a candidate for American Fisheries Society (AFS) office and, if I should be elected, I will serve during a period in my life when I am able to devote the time and effort needed to do the job.
I have been active in the AFS since 1978 and I learned early about service to the profession, working closely with two AFS presidents on my graduate advisory committees and a third as my supervisor in Montana. I have served as president of the Virginia Tech and Virginia chapters, as well as the Southern Division of the AFS. I served on many committees, including the Continuing Education Committee (one year as chair), the Task Force on Professional Certification that revised certification requirements, the Certification Review Board, and the Special Committee on Educational Requirements. Due to my interest in leadership development, I have also helped to teach the Leading at All Levels in AFS workshop offered every year at the Annual Meeting, assuming leadership of the course in 2013.
As discussed during the 2013 Annual Meeting plenary session, the AFS (and the rest of the world) is in the midst of tremendous demographic change. We are experiencing the same generational change that is affecting the rest of the world and I believe that the AFS should actively engage in shaping its future. Shaping the future of the AFS should include enhanced involvement and mentoring of younger AFS members; maintaining and enhancing networking among members through our publications, social media, meetings, and governance; and a steadfast focus on maintaining the standards of professionalism in fisheries. We can enhance involvement and development of younger members by ensuring that students and young professionals are actively included in all AFS committees and by emphasizing the career benefits of actively engaging in the society. Networking opportunities abound in the AFS, and many experienced members cite networking with other fisheries professionals as one of the primary benefits of AFS involvement. We should strive to ensure that the AFS continues to provide abundant opportunities for networking among fisheries professionals, young and old. Although generational change and budget constraints may challenge us to develop creative ways for members to participate at a distance, we should always strive to have vibrant meetings that maximize opportunities for face-to-face interaction. We define professionalism by setting standards through our certification program, which should be revisited after the Special Committee on Educational Requirements finishes its work. We also must continue to produce the highest quality publications, effectively use social media to disseminate information, and focus our policy and advocacy efforts on ensuring that fisheries policies have sound technical underpinnings. I welcome the opportunity to help shape the future of the AFS.