Candidate Statement: AFS Second Vice President – Scott Bonar

Scott Bonar

Scott Bonar


I remember how excited I was to attend my first AFS meeting. The opportunity to meet leaders in the field and be inspired by them was a powerful experience. AFS means very much to our profession and the resources we manage. Therefore, I would be honored to receive your support to serve as the second vice president.

I have been involved in aquatic research, management, education, and recreation all of my life, and I have loved every minute of it! (Ok—maybe not every minute—but most of it!). I grew up in the river country of southern Indiana and Kentucky, fishing, snorkeling in local lakes, and exploring the rivers and backwater swamps. I received a degree in science education from the University of Evansville and then moved to Seattle, where I earned a Ph.D. in fisheries at the University of Washington (UW). In the Pacific Northwest, I was introduced to the study of fisheries management in coldwater fish country by outstanding scientists and their collaborators at UW. Next, I joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where I worked for almost 10 years following my Ph.D. Here, I learned the craft of a state fisheries biologist, and developed a tremendous amount of respect for those who work on the front lines of everyday fisheries management. I entered federal service about 15 years ago, first as an assistant unit leader, then a unit leader, at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Arizona. As an employee of USGS, and a professor of the university, I have the privilege to work with professionals at the academic/federal agency interface to mesh fisheries research between agencies and the university. This body of work has allowed me to author over 100 publications and supervise more than 150 employees on a wide variety of fish and fisheries issues. I have been able to present work at meetings from local lakeside homeowner’s groups to international conferences, even to the United Nations and NATO.

This broad background has enabled me to learn and develop techniques to conserve and study many different types of fish communities and their associated environments. I know first-hand the importance of bass, sunfish, and catfish angling in midwestern and southern lakes and rivers. I have studied the management and ecology of both native salmonids and introduced fishes from coastal rivers and lowland lakes to the clear, cold, high-elevation lakes and streams of the Pacific Northwest. I have led students on projects in Arizona, Nevada, and California to investigate means to conserve the critically endangered and unique fishes hidden in the roaring rivers and isolated springs deep in our continent’s deserts. My students and I have propagated seven threatened and endangered desert species, most never before propagated in captivity, and have worked with hatchery managers from several states, so I have learned to appreciate some of the challenges faced by those involved in captive propagation. I have SCUBA dived in marine environments, enjoying watchable fish and wildlife in many areas of the world, from Alaska to the tropics. Finally, I have worked with a variety of constituent groups and state, federal, and private biologists, managers, and students who, like me, consider these aquatic resources to be critically important to our lives.


As a member of AFS for about 30 years, I have been privileged to be involved in many activities of the Society at both regional and continental levels. I was president of the Western Division of AFS, the largest division of the Society. I have also been involved in work with the Sections and the Chapters, where I was president of the Introduced Fish Section, and was awarded “Fisheries Professional of the Year” from the Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of AFS. As chair of the Standard Sampling Committee of the Fish Management Section, I led the development of Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes, an AFS bestseller that involved over 280 biologists and managers from 107 different agencies, universities, and organizations. This work led to a movement to compare AFS standard data using webtool technology, which was featured in the December issue of Fisheries. Most recently, I led an international symposium at the AFS Annual Meeting in Portland, co-organized with fisheries leaders from North America, Europe, Mesoamerica, and featuring speakers from these areas and South America, Asia, and Africa, which discussed the potential of international comparison of standard data. Throughout my work, I have found that interpersonal communication skills are critical for conservationists, so I wrote a book entitled “The Conservation Professional’s Guide to Working with People” that was called a “must-read” by the journal Ecology, and I have shared this approach at past AFS conferences and workshops.


My vision for AFS would be to continue— and add to—the excellent history of communication of fish, fisheries, and associated science by the Society both among fisheries professionals, and between fisheries professionals and the public. Therefore, I would seek potential opportunities to enhance communication. Annual, state, and regional meetings are critical venues for fisheries professionals to share experiences and network. As president, I would support this tradition, and work with agencies to facilitate attendance by professionals to these events. I believe providing means to standardize data collection methods and data comparison is as critical for our profession to communicate as it is for medicine, meteorology, geology, and other fields. I believe AFS, unhindered by the boundaries often experienced by government agencies and organizations, continues to be an important entity to move these initiatives forward, and I would support activities in data and method standardization and communication. Finally, I would look for opportunities to enhance communication among fisheries professionals and the public we serve that would highlight the importance of healthy fish and aquatic wildlife communities to humankind, and the need to conserve such assemblages.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to serve our profession, and I would appreciate your vote in support of my candidacy! AFS has meant so much to my own growth as a scientist and the professional development of my graduate students that I relish the opportunity to serve the membership. I look forward to the chance to work with you and the excellent leadership and headquarters staff of the AFS to advance our endeavors to maintain healthy sh and aquatic wildlife populations.

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