New Benefits, Big News at the Annual Members Meeting

By Dana Kobilinsky

“We are The Wildlife Society!” That was the chant set in motion by new TWS President Gary Potts during the Annual Members Meeting.

At the meeting Tuesday, attendees learned about the state of The Wildlife Society and also heard from Past President Rick Baydack as well as Potts, who succeeds Baydack.

Baydack kicked off the meeting with great news — the total count of 1,564 attendees eclipsed the attendance numbers from last year’s conference in Pittsburgh by 12 attendees.

Executive Director of The Wildlife Society Ken Williams then took the stage to brief members on the current state of The Wildlife Society as well as the promising direction in which it’s headed.

“We’re onto something good here,” Williams said. The increase in attendance this year is “indicative of where we’ve come as a society.”

Williams also mentioned changes implemented since the last Annual Conference that have contributed to the success including enhanced communications with members and partners through channels such as the eWildlifer and TWS’ dynamic website,

“We’re in good shape and going in a positive direction,” he said. “The Society is growing in very important ways.”

Ed Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of The Wildlife Society, announced two new member benefits that will be rolling out over the next three months at no additional cost to members. Starting next year, The Wildlife Professional — one of the Society’s most popular member benefits — will move from being a quarterly publication to a bi-monthly, published six times a year. Additionally, as a result of the addition of American Public University as a Strategic Partner, all TWS members will qualify a five-percent discount on courses for credit or professional development through APU.

During the meeting, Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society Doug Austen spoke about a joint annual conference of the two societies that will take place in 2019. Then, Sam Koltinsky from Marvo Entertainment joined Williams on for the announcement of a new TWS award, the Jay N. “Ding” Darling Award for Wildlife Stewardship through Art. The first of this award will be presented at next year’s conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Surprising attendees, Koltinsky then presented TWS with the “Brush of Excellence” — one of Darling’s brushes that he used to paint.

Toward the end of the event, Baydack completed his last order of business as president of The Wildlife Society — swearing in new council members Fidel Hernández (Southwest Section), Mike Conner (Southeast Section), John McDonald (Vice-President), and student liaison Krysten Zummo. Then, he handed the gavel over to Potts who spoke about what he hopes to accomplish as the next TWS president.

The primary theme of Potts’ presidency will be expanding partnerships and collaboration. He stressed the importance of the Society reaching out to more organizations, especially agencies that can help increase the presence of wildlife management professionals in the ranks of TWS.

Potts also spoke about the value of TWS members and the value available to them through the Society.

“There are a lifetime of opportunities for students and early career professionals to get involved with The Wildlife Society,” he said. “We are all part of The Wildlife Society. Every member is important. You are leaders of future generations.”

Potts then started a chant with the audience. “When I say ‘We are’ you say ‘The Wildlife Society!” Potts said. And as audience members chanted it, everyone’s pride shone through.

“It’s not cheerleading — it’s the strategies and protocols that make us great,” Potts said. “They set the tone for me. We all can set the tone for the future… I hope you rise to the occasion. Because we are…” Potts said. “The Wildlife Society!” the audience concluded.


The following award winners were honored during the meeting for their outstanding accomplishments and commitment:

Chapter of the Year
The Wyoming Chapter

The Distinguished Service Award
Lu Carbyn – Canadian Secion
Warren Aney – NW Section
Randy Spencer – SE Section
Justin Vreeland – NE Section
Dr. Jon Hooper – Western Section

TWS Fellows
John Haufler (outgoing past-president
Steve Belinda
Ken Higgins
Barb Hill
Eric Hellgren
Dave Hewitt
Kevin Hurley
Jim Ramakka
Olin Rhodes
Shawn Riley
Tom Ryder
Don Yasuda

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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