Chapters and Student Chapter Advisor honored

TWS presented the 2016 Chapter, Student Chapter and Student Chapter Advisor of the Year Awards at the 23rd Annual Conference last October in Raleigh, N.C.

The Society selected the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, as Chapter of the Year.

The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Chapter poses with the Student Chapter of the Year Award at the 2016 Annual Conference. © McKenna Hammons

“It reflects the hard work of our board members and membership’s involvement,” said Matthew Bettelheim, former chapter president turned chapter representative to the Western Section. “One of our greatest achievements this year was co-organizing the Oakland Nature Festival, which celebrated the nation’s first wildlife refuge in the heart of Oakland and its biodiversity and helped raise money for resources like binoculars for public use, museum display upgrades and other educational equipment.”

The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point took home its sixth Student Chapter of the Year Award. Started in 1971, the group has over 200 members, “passionate student leaders that make our chapter so successful,” said its president, Lisa Zoromski. In 2016, the organization was hard at work planning the annual North Central Section Student Conclave and participating in workshops, symposiums, volunteer projects and student-led research, she said.

“I feel we won the award due to the diversity of opportunities and projects that we provide for members,” added Sarah Johanson, the previous chapter president.

Scott Henke received the Student Chapter Advisor of the Year Award. He is a regent’s professor and chair of the Animal, Rangeland and Wildlife Sciences Department at Texas A&M University – Kingsville and a research scientist with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

Texas A&M University – Kingsville’s Scott Henke accepts the Student Chapter Advisor of the Year Award from former TWS president Gary Potts. ©Curtis Wilson/TWS

In 1992, after obtaining his PhD in wildlife sciences, he began teaching at the university and founded its TWS student chapter with just four students. He has been advising the chapter, which now boasts more than 100 students, ever since.

Under Henke’s guidance, the student chapter has been involved in a wide range of activities, he said. Members have delivered up to 100 different hands-on wildlife education presentations at elementary and high schools. The chapter has also been raising awareness about the negative impact that abandoning cats on campus has on wildlife and emphasizing to local leaders the need to better control the city’s feral cat population. Other valuable wildlife experience includes managing raccoons around apartments and conducting wildlife surveys at ranches in the vicinity.

“It’s humbling,” Henke said of the award. “Students here are go-getters. It’s nice to be recognized as the advisor, but without the students, their quality and their drive to excel, I don’t know how well I would have been able to do.”

Header Image: San Francisco Bay Area Chapter members inspect the haul of a seine net during a visit to the Ohlone Preserve Conservation Bank. ©Scott Lindemann