The Wildlife Society has awarded Bob Lanka with the Special Recognition Award for a “Herculean effort” to update and improve the society’s bylaws for new generations of wildlifers.
Lanka, a TWS member and retired biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, chaired a driven team on the Bylaws Subcommittee from 2017 to 2021 to bring the rules that guide TWS into compliance with banking and legal requirements governing nonprofit organizations.
“This was a Herculean effort and would not have been accomplished in such an outstanding and thorough way without Bob’s perseverance, leadership and dedication,” wrote TWS members Evelyn Merrill and Harriet Allen in their nomination letter for Lanka, the winner of the Special Recognition Award in 2021. “It’s hard to contemplate the number of hours and personal sacrifice he must have devoted to this effort.”
Important new overarching principles of TWS were added to the bylaws, including a focus on increasing human diversity in TWS and in the wildlife profession as a whole.
“It is important that TWS members and others know that TWS supports human diversity in a fundamental way,” Lanka said. “Adding this principle to our bylaws is one important step in addressing that need.”
Another new principle was added to the bylaws, codifying long-standing efforts by TWS to encourage colleges and universities to continue teaching wildlife science and management in an era when many institutions are moving toward purely conservation.
“We encourage schools to still teach or begin teaching things that are important to our members,” Lanka said.
Other changes include adjustments to working groups in order to comply with recent federal banking rules and explicit inclusion of laws in the federal corporation code.
“Substantial changes were made to the bylaws to position the society for today and going into the future,” Lanka said, adding that this was the first comprehensive review and revision of TWS bylaws in decades.
“Bob’s leadership of this enormous undertaking was characterized by his incredible attention to detail, his dedication to achieving the best product possible, and his patience, wisdom and inclusiveness of other’s opinions throughout the process,” Merrill and Allen wrote.
Andrea Orabona, a TWS member and biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said that his attention to detail and willingness to listen to other people was a theme throughout his three-decade career with the agency and at TWS.
“Throughout Bob’s career with the department, I witnessed first-hand his deliberate and successful approach to wildlife management and conservation,” she wrote in a letter of support for Lanka’s nomination.
While proud of the recognition of the award, Lanka stresses that the whole bylaw update was a team effort. “It’s the result of a lot of work by a lot of people that got us to where we are,” he said.
Click here to see the complete list of award recipients.
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