Bruce Thompson passes gavel and presidency to John McDonald

With the passing of a gavel, Bruce Thompson ended his term as president of The Wildlife Society on Wednesday and John McDonald took over the position with a goal of increasing the Society’s visibility.

“This is my one challenge to our staff and to our officers and to our membership,” McDonald said. “Do what you can to raise our visibility on both local and national platforms.”

At the 24th annual TWS conference in Albuquerque, N.M., Thompson stood before a crowd of wildlifers, expressing pride in what The Wildlife Society accomplished in his term and excitement for its future under McDonald.

“This is always a bittersweet opportunity, because we can delight in providing our final reflections, but we know they are final reflections,” Thompson said.

He reflected on the success of following the society’s strategic plan, including an increasing effort for integrated communication throughout the Society. He said he was especially proud of the participation of students and early professionals. “They are our lifeblood,” he said.

Thompson stressed the importance of the intersection of culture and conservation and said he hoped to see that awareness grow.

He attributed much of his success to being able to work in some capacity with 43 past TWS presidents. “Any of you can be leaders in The Wildlife Society,” he told the crowd. “I’m quite certain you are in the presence of past, current and most importantly future leaders of The Wildlife Society. Never hesitate to engage with those leadership positions. They have been where you are, and they are readily approachable.”

After being handed the presidential gavel, McDonald took the stage and discussed his vision for The Wildlife Society. He addressed students, urging them to get involved.

“I never imagined I’d be up here taking over as president for a year,” he said. “This could be you.”

McDonald said he hopes to continue achieving the goals of the strategic plan. “We’re going to do all of that again, and hopefully do even better in the coming year,” he said.

One of his goals is to raise The Wildlife Society’s profile as an organization. He said it’s important for wildlifers not only to talk to individuals within the profession, but to engage audiences they don’t usually talk to.

One way McDonald hopes to continue to engage members of the public and of The Wildlife Society is through a TWS president Twitter account, where he’ll highlight great things members are doing, position statements, studies in the TWS journals, and more.

For next year’s conference in Cleveland, Ohio, McDonald’s theme will be recognizing and sustaining conservation successes. “We’ve done a lot of good things,” he said. “It will be a nice moment to reflect on those positive achievements and use those as a model for building future successes.”