TWS policy pioneer earns Honorary Membership Award

By Dana Kobilinsky

Tom Franklin, a former president of The Wildlife Society who helped develop TWS’s policy department, earned the Honorary Membership Award at the Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Image courtesy of Tom Franklin.

Tom Franklin’s first job after college, working on urban wildlife conservation, quickly taught him that decisions affecting wildlife often were not being made by wildlife biologists.

“It became more and more apparent that policy was driving what happened on the ground,” he said.

That realization led to a career-long commitment to influencing policy and wildlife conservation, from his days working as a TWS field director in the 1980s to today, serving as agricultural liaison with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

A former TWS president, Franklin earned the Honorary Membership Award at the Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“It was a tremendous thrill to receive this recognition from my peers” Franklin said. “I’m proud to be associated with TWS, and being recognized in this way is the ultimate honor.”

Franklin has been a member of TWS since 1972 when he was a University of Maryland wildlife management student. His interest in policy led him to earn a master’s degree in administrative science at Johns Hopkins University.

He began working as a field director at The Wildlife Society headquarters in 1983, but soon he realized the Society needed a separate policy department. In 1991, he became its first wildlife policy director, communicating with decision makers on Capitol Hill and with the federal agencies on issues ranging from opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development to gray wolf (Canis lupus) restoration in the Northern Rockies. Franklin also worked to create the foundation that continues to fund TWS policy initiatives.

He went on to executive positions at the Izaak Walton League of America and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, was elected to the TWS Council and served as TWS president in 2008 and 2009. He continues to be involved with TWS as part of The 1,000 group of donors, as a fellow and serving on committees.

“The strength of The Wildlife Society is in its members,” he said, “and I so much appreciate all of the great expertise and support that the members have lent to the Society and to the work that I and others have done to get our message out about the use of science in wildlife conservation.”

He said he hopes TWS continues to actively advocate for wildlife conservation through science.

“The Wildlife Society is the only group in North America that has the expertise among its members and the credibility to effectively advocate for the use of science in natural resource policy decisions affecting wildlife,” he said.

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

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