Q&A with Officer Candidates: April Croxton

  1. What do you see as a major scientific and management challenge facing fisheries over the next 10 years and how should AFS be engaged in addressing that issue?

The most challenging scientific and management topic facing fisheries now, and over the next 10 years, is climate change. Our environment is rapidly changing and generating new scientific questions. These changes include shifts in invasive species, drought occurrences, increased flooding, and a host of other perturbations to aquatic species and their habitats. AFS has a historical reputation of providing sound science to inform decision-makers, and this will continue to be a very important role for the organization. In order to provide sound advice and data to decision-makers, AFS must continue to support the innovative research that is being conducted on this topic. This support can include highlighting research and policy positions in our publications, and through engagement with decision-makers. Climate change is a complex challenge that will also require AFS and members to adapt to new scientific challenges using unconventional approaches.

  1. AFS has about 8,000 members but, at best, it includes only 1 out of every 4 or 5 working fisheries professionals; less optimistic estimates put the figure at only 1 out of 10. What are 2 or 3 key actions that AFS should be taking to engage more professionals in the society in the next 2-3 years?

Engaging members and potential members is a concern of many organizations. Identifying and engaging non-traditional fisheries professions and developing new recruitment approaches are two very important actions that AFS should consider when addressing this concern. My fisheries journey started on a traditional fisheries biologist pathway, but as my interests broadened in the field, this path led me to a career aligned with the policy and legislative side of the profession. It has been my experience that policy and management professionals are often overlooked in recruitment efforts, despite the need to engage all members of the profession. Engagement could include webinars on relevant topics, sessions at Annual Meetings, and continuing to highlight policy positions on current fisheries topics. Likewise, it is equally important to diversify recruitment efforts to attract the various career levels of our members. For instance, we are all aware of how important engaging student members is for ensuring the next generation of science professionals. This approach can be used for every career level to include young professionals, mid-career, and post-career members. The use of these creative recruitment practices will require the Society to think outside of traditional recruitment pathways, while highlighting the benefits of becoming a member and maintaining membership within the Society.

  1. What is one role that AFS does not currently fulfill that you believe could be important in the future, and why?

Career development is a role that I would like to see AFS offer to its members in the future. The Society does a great job of training members on technical skills relevant to the profession, but I don’t see this same level of engagement in developing the overall member. There are examples of training for young professionals, but this training is lacking for more experienced members who may be looking for this guidance.

  1. What qualifies you best for the AFS presidency?

One of my most unique qualities as a candidate is that I am a non-traditional AFS member. I did not join the Society as a student, but rather joined as a mid-career professional. More importantly, I am able to bring a different perspective to the overall Society experience. I chose AFS as the scientific community that I wanted to actively support, and I have been committed to the goals of the Society since joining.

  1. How can AFS facilitate better communication of scientific information among fisheries scientists?

AFS has a great reputation of serving as a resource for scientific information, as well as facilitating communication between scientists. To continue in this role, it is important for AFS to provide various platforms for scientists to be able to share information with the community and public. Technology is rapidly changing, and this impacts how we communicate with each other. Traditional forms of communicating science, such as textbooks and journals, will need to be combined with electronic options that may include social media.

  1. Science is being challenged in government and in our society. What can AFS do to better respond to this challenge and ensure that our institutions persist and the science that they develop are used properly and effectively in resource management?

AFS must continue to support and share sound research to our government leaders and the public. AFS is viewed as an honest broker in the community and maintaining this position can prevent some of the challenges that the scientific community is currently facing. Continuing to engage our government leaders and providing real world applications of the science is a manageable solution to this issue. On a Society level, providing training to members to help navigate situations where their research may be challenged is a great way that AFS can internally respond to this current challenge. With these skills, scientists are better equipped to address how their data is being communicated to the public.