The Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Research Scholarship was established to honor the memory of Don Rusch and to continue his legacy by contributing to studies of game bird biology. Don was an avid hunter and angler with a keen interest in all aspects of game bird biology and conservation. He advocated the wise use of our wildlife resources, and emphasized the importance of scientific research to improve our understanding of wildlife populations and their conservation. This award was originally intended to continue for 20 years and expire in September 2019. However, the scholarship has been extended and maintained thanks to Chuck Meslow.

The award is presented annually to a graduate student researching any aspect of upland game bird or waterfowl biology and management. Studies of bird species not presently hunted because of conservation concerns are also eligible for consideration. A scholarship will be presented to the award recipient at The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference in the year of application.


Applicants must be registered in a master’s degree program (in even numbered years of application deadline) or doctoral degree program (in odd numbered years of application deadline) in wildlife biology, zoology, ecology or a related discipline at a university in North America, support hunting as a sustainable use of wildlife, and be a member of The Wildlife Society.

Awards are based on the applicant’s academic achievements, field experience, involvement in TWS and TWS organization subunits, leadership in education, research and wildlife management, and career interests. Project merit also will be considered and will be weighted to reflect the involvement of the candidate in its development and design.

Research projects must be endorsed by the applicant’s academic supervisor. The award is intended to benefit students who show promise as wildlife educators, researchers, and managers. A special TWS committee will select the award recipient and reserves the right to forego an award selection if no suitable candidates apply.


The application should include:

  • A cover letter describing what influenced the applicant’s entry into the wildlife field, leadership experience in education and research, participation in The Wildlife Society, future career goals, and a brief statement regarding the applicant’s perspectives and appreciation of hunting as an integral aspect of wildlife management and wildlife-associated recreation;
  • A brief project description addressing the rationale for the study, the involvement of the candidate in selecting and designing the study, the experimental methods, and the potential management implications of the research. Please list collaborators, other supporting individuals, and estimated term of study (maximum three pages double-spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins);
  • A resume (maximum two pages), including a description of research and field work experience, list of presentations and publications, academic awards and scholarships, and grade-point averages (overall undergraduate GPA and for each year of graduate school); and
  • A letter of support from the student’s academic advisor. The letter should address the need for and the significance of the research, as well as provide a candid appraisal of the student.

Submit these materials via email to
The nomination and complete supporting documentation should be sent as a single PDF file by May 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM EDT.