Rating Myself as AFS President, or How Well I Think I Did

Joe Margraf, AFS President. E-mail: [email protected]

Wow! Talk about a fast year. I cannot believe that this is my last column. Maybe you think, is it finally over? In my first column, I whined about not being cut out to write these. Well, I actually found them much easier to do once I decided to write about my ideas, opinions, and the personal things that led me to thinking the way I do about them. I have gotten a number of nice comments back from people, and a few not so nice; but at least I know that folks read what I had to say and it got them thinking. After all, I never expected that people would always agree with me (no matter how right I was). By writing my thoughts, I only wanted to get others to think; agreement was only the cherry on top when it happened. I also got the opportunity to meet fisheries scientists across the globe, thanks to the agreements that AFS has with six international fisheries societies. Some of those visits have influenced my thinking and to some degree the thoughts I have shared with you. A good example of that comes from my thoughts on advocacy and getting decision makers to consider fisheries issues. Anyway, I will give myself a B+ on communicating with members of the profession. This was not an A because I didn’t get out to as many of the Chapters as I would have liked. The time—mostly—and cost of the international trips took away from domestic travels. Because of interference with my travels to Brazil, I did not make it to the Southern Division meeting, my home for nearly half of my career. As it is, it seems like that I spent the majority of my time traveling. In the future, if travel to Chapter meetings is split among the officers on a rotating schedule, about once every 5 or 6 years a Chapter could expect an officer to attend their meeting.

Committee work is the stalwart of effort by AFS on behalf of fisheries professionals. I did a very poor job empowering our committees to work on your behalf. Given the time I spent on travel and writing my column, I did not seem to have the energy to do my job relative to committees, even modestly. This has bothered me a great deal but not enough to actually do what I knew needed to be done. I think I am being most generous giving myself a D– on this important task. I can only hope that future leaders will do much better than this.

The third leg of the stool is our journals, which was one of my goals for the year. I appointed a special committee, chaired by Fisheries Senior Science Editor Jeff Schaeffer. Independent of this committee and not because of any effort of my own (thanks to AFS meeting guru, Shawn Johnston, for winning a drawing worth U.S.$25,000 in meeting credits), we had a very productive workshop in May in Reno that was focused on our publications. The results of that workshop will most likely result in some actionable items by the AFS Governing Board that will undoubtedly result in our publications being more relevant to our members and more useful to the profession as a whole. Because the workshop was so successful and I had the good fortune for it to happen during my presidency, I give myself a B on this element.

A fourth element of the job is to increase the relevance of the fisheries profession in the minds of both AFS members and the general public. Again, I appointed a special committee to begin this discussion, chaired by Tom Lang. I devoted all or part of several of my columns to this issue. I also gave a plenary speech to the Western Division and Montana Chapter in May on this issue. Though the efforts are just in the beginning, I give myself a B-. This grade could go up or down depending on our eventual success.

Overall, I think I have been a C+ president. My grade could go up a little with time, or not, depending on the outcome of the efforts started this year. If C is average, then I have been an average president. I can become a past president feeling that I belong to the very strong group who has led AFS in the past. I wish only the best to those who follow me and I will be happy to help in any way I can. Next year I will serve as immediate past president, whose job it is to serve as the institutional memory of the other officers and mentor to the new president. Our incoming President Steve McMullin hardly needs a mentor, but I will be there to help him as needed. The past year has been the best career cap I could have imagined and in retrospect I would gladly do it over in a heartbeat. I highly recommend the position to any member who may wish to pursue it and who has in their heart the best interest of AFS and the profession in general. Thanks to you all for caring so much about our profession, and please accept my farewell and my best wishes to you all for the future.

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