Virginia Tech Professor Dr. Donald J. Orth Receives Excellence in Fisheries Education Award


August 23, 2016
Contact: Martha Wilson
[email protected]

orthDr. Donald J. Orth of the Department of Fish and Wildlife at Virginia Tech received the Excellence in Fisheries Education Award at the 2016 American Fisheries Society (AFS) Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. AFS President Ron Essig presented the award at the meeting’s plenary session. The Excellence in Fisheries Education Award is presented to an individual to recognize excellence in organized teaching and advising in some aspect of fisheries education. Nominees may be involved in extension or continuing education, as well as traditional college and university instruction.

Dr. Orth is the Thomas H. Jones Professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech, where he has been a faculty member for the past 36 years. Over his career, he has mentored 27 graduate students, 25 undergraduate researchers, and 6 postdoctoral/postgraduate researchers. He has taught 11 different courses in fisheries and natural resources and served as department head for 7 years.

In his nomination, Dr. Orth was lauded for his devotion and enthusiasm for his students and their professional development, supporting his goal to help students “understand the world in which they live and find meaning in their work.” Hallmarks of Dr. Orth’s philosophy that have contributed to his success as an educator include use of unconventional and innovative strategies to engage students with diverse learning styles, integration of social media and novel technologies in his courses, and creating a climate that facilitates student confidence, trust, and authentic learning experiences. He has clearly made a lasting impact on the fisheries profession through a lineage of student and postdoctoral mentees who themselves have become significant contributors as researchers, educators, administrators, and natural resource managers. Dr. Orth’s accomplishments have previously been recognized through nine teaching and faculty excellence awards that he has received at Virginia Tech.

In addition to his contributions as an instructor and mentor, Dr. Orth has also made significant contributions to fisheries education through university and professional service and education-related publications. He has served on the Education Subcommittee for the AFS Board of Professional Certification, as chair of the Excellence in Fisheries Education Award Committee, and as president of the Education Section, and has offered several continuing education courses. Dr. Orth’s dedication to the scholarship of teaching and learning is also evident from the influential articles on fisheries education he has published in Fisheries and book chapters on life science ethics in the classroom.

In summary, Dr. Orth has demonstrated sustained excellence as a scholar-educator.


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About AFS: Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.