Second Vice President Candidate Statement: Margaret Murphy

Note: AFS members should check their email in March for voting instructions.


My understanding of diversity in fisheries started young; I am proud to say my grandmother taught me how to fish. I loved those youthful days at camp, fishing off the dock for hours, smelting late at night, or in the woods hunting for worms. I always offered to clean whatever fish were kept for grilling and learned fish anatomy during the process. During my junior year at Siena College, my focus changed from pre-med to fisheries biology and I earned both my MS and PhD degrees at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

I worked in the private sector for over 25 years, including starting and successfully running my own consulting firm for 4 years. I have been an adjunct assistant professor at SUNY-ESF since 2012, serving on several thesis committees, conducting research in the Adirondacks, and teaching the “Fishes of the Adirondacks” course for two summers.

Three years ago, I entered the public sector, becoming a fish program manager for Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. I am responsible for overseeing our Lake Champlain programs, including Lake Sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens research, habitat assessment, and restoration, and coordinating with the state of New York and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on salmonid management and control of Sea Lamprey Petromyzon marinus. Additionally, I participate on the agency flow team to assess fish habitat needs during hydropower dam relicensing as well as other flow related projects. This has been a big change for me and the transition to a small state agency has been a great experience.

My background and wide range of positions provide me with a unique vantage point for an AFS Officer—I have been at both sides of the table and understand the value in listening to all perspectives and being open to reevaluating my view based on additional information and perspectives; my priority has always been for the natural resource and maintaining it for future generations. Science is dynamic and we continually take in new information and refine our understanding whether we are dealing with local and regional conservation challenges or fisheries management and angler needs.


I began my leadership in AFS as a MS student at the urging of my advisor and mentor, Neil Ringler. During career changes, AFS has been my constant and I would have been lost without the support from AFS friends and colleagues. I have been a Certified Fisheries Professional since 2002. Most recently, I was honored to become an AFS Fellow, Class of 2022. Some highlights of my service over the past 30 years include:

  • President, SUNY-ESF chapter 1990–1991.
  • President, AFS New York (NY) Chapter 1998–1999.
  • AFS NY Chapter Student Subunit Advisor 1996–2004.
  • AFS NY Chapter Program Chair 2002.
  • First Vice President, Northeastern Division 2003–2004; served on Management Committee.
  • President, Northeastern Division 2004–2005; served on Management Committee.
  • Northeastern Division Program Committee Chair 2003 and 2004.
  • AFS 2005 Annual Meeting Student Activities Co-Chair.
  • AFS Outstanding Chapter Award Committee Chair 2006–2007.
  • AFS Award of Excellence Committee Chair 2007–2009.
  • AFS Meritorious Service Award Committee 2009–2011.
  • AFS Nominating Committee Chair 2012–2014.
  • President, Water Quality Section 2013–2015; appointed to Management Committee.
  • Strategic Planning Committee: 2008–2009, 2013–2014 (Chair), 2017–2019.
  • AFS NY Chapter Local Arrangements Chair in 2020.
  • Northeastern Division Technical Program Co-Chair 2021 NEAFWA meeting.
  • AFS NY Chapter Women in Fisheries Mentoring; mentor to two women in inaugural year, 2022.


My vision for AFS has three major themes:

  • Membership. AFS is one organization with many vital parts.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We can and will do more to understand the issues and develop strategies to reach and support all fisheries professionals.
  • Students and Young Professionals are the future. We need to learn from them and help them understand roles they can play and how AFS can help them

I firmly believe the whole is always stronger than its parts and the collaboration of all fisheries professionals, as well as other disciplines, is critical. The American Fisheries Society is that whole and has been at the forefront of some of the critical issues facing natural resources today. We have the opportunity to increase public understanding of the value of fisheries and to foster sound stewardship of freshwater, estuarine, and marine systems. It is important to continue evaluating these issues and help guide government officials and inform legislation utilizing the expertise of our membership. In addition, our Chapters are a vital part of the whole of AFS and I would work to foster better communication on the benefits of AFS, as well as the importance of their role at the local level. This is already something I do when attending AFS Chapter Meetings and I envision designating local representatives from among the Chapter membership to convey this message among their peers. There are numerous careers available to fisheries scientists today that are more diverse than in the past and communication among us is critical. We need to maintain this diversity and develop ways for all members to connect and feel like they truly belong, as well as contribute to the success of AFS. Additionally, improvements can be made reaching out to underrepresented groups; AFS needs to continue to reach out and understand the services these groups require to increase membership diversity.

Rarely has an AFS Officer come with a background from academia, government, and the private sector combined. I would bring this valuable perspective to the AFS leadership and commit to working on issues of expanding and diversifying the membership of AFS. Students and young professionals are the future of AFS; I want to continue developing services for and incorporating students and young professionals in the leadership of the organization. Students and young professionals provide a fresh perspective and can help keep AFS moving forward and becoming an even stronger and relevant organization. It is our job as professionals to listen to student ideas, as well as to help them understand the importance of maintaining credibility, establishing connections, and taking an active role in their future. It’s a mix of tradition and growth. I am excited and humbled at the opportunity to serve the AFS membership. If elected, I will strive to maintain connections with all members and encourage new memberships from underrepresented groups. I look forward to working with the Governing Board and Executive Director to maintain our credibility as experts in all aspects of fishery science.