Council meeting news and notes

The Wildlife Society Council held its annual spring meeting in Spokane during the 87th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference March 13-14, 2022. The major actions and discussion topics from that meeting are summarized below.

The complete Council minutes will be made available to all members in their accounts at once approved by Council.

During the meeting, Council took action to:

  • Appoint new members of the Certification Review Board: Kelly Holland (Western Section—1st term) and Brett Dunlap (Southeastern Section—1st term).
  • Dissolve the University of Mount Olive and University of Illinois of Mount Olive Student Chapters of The Wildlife Society due to inactivity, per TWS’ bylaw requirements.
  • Enhance TWS’ policy documents and its processes. Council removed “Standing Positions” as a category of documents, re-categorizing all existing Standing Positions as Position Statements. Council also revised and streamlined processes for drafting, revising and approving Position Statements, Issue Statements and Technical Reviews by rescinding existing process documents and consolidating the processes into the Council’s Procedures Manual.
  • Provide a Lifetime Membership to The Wildlife Society to all current, future and living past editors-in-chief of the Journal of Wildlife Management, the Wildlife Society Bulletin and the Wildlife Monographs.
  • Elevate the Nutritional Ecology Working Group from interim to official status in recognition of exceeding the minimum requirements for TWS’ Working Groups for the past three years.

Other actions were taken on behalf of Council by staff or organization units:

  • Staff approved bylaws/charter changes for the following organization units:
  1. Dec. 22, 2021: Louisiana State University Student Chapter of TWS
  2. Dec. 1, 2021: Renewable Energy Working Group of TWS
  3. Sept. 23, 2021: Mississippi Chapter of TWS
  4. Sept. 22, 2021: Habitat Restoration and Conservation Working Group of TWS
  • The following new organization units were approved:
  1. The Executive Board of the Colorado Chapter of TWS approved the California State University Pueblo Student Chapter of TWS for official status after successfully completing all annual reporting requirements during its three-year interim status period, effective Jan. 8, 2022.
  2. The Executive Board of the Texas Chapter of TWS approved the petition to establish a student chapter of TWS at Sam Houston State University. The Wildlife Society approved formation of the student chapter effective Dec. 6, 2021.

During the meeting, Council discussed several important topics, including:

  • the sustainability of TWS’ organization units, and how staff track their status and take actions to help avoid dissolution. Council and staff noted that more dissolutions may be forthcoming resulting from the pandemic.
  • membership trends and renewal rates. Renewal rates for first year members are lowest. Council noted that TWS needs information on why new members do not renew and should ensure that membership services both attract new members and support retention of current members.
  • a proposal from TWS’ IDEA Working Group to fund a storytelling initiative, including a workshop and coaching session. Discussions yielded several suggestions for the initiative including: 1) reaching out to other working groups; 2) using this initiative as a springboard to broaden storytelling in TWS; and 3) incorporating the gained storytelling capacity into TWS outreach and communications. The request will be considered in Council’s FY 2023 budget deliberations and a response conveyed in writing.
  • future endowment contributions, including the potential need to set a minimum amount for “named” funds; consolidating smaller donations into purpose-defined funds; and directing incoming donations by themes that reflect TWS priorities.
  • proposals from TWS’ Student Development Working Group. Darwin Mayhew, Chair of the working group and student liaison to Council, led discussions on several recommendations including:
  • Ideas to increase global networking among student chapters.
  • Changes to make the Certification Program more accessible, including for international students.
  • Enhancements to make TWS’ website and virtual toolkit more valuable to students.
  • Changes in dues pricing to grow student membership and engagement.

Council discussed several of the recommendations made, but did not approve or otherwise act on any of these as they will require further discussion.

  • process that TWS units, including working groups, use to develop position statements and other policy documents, and potential overlap or conflicts with existing TWS policy positions
  • TWS’ Wildlife Toxicology Working Group’s recommendation to establish a panel of experts, additional to working groups, to respond to issues when required. The concept of an expertise bank is being discussed in TWS’ Conservation Action Network arena.
  • Discussed Southeastern Section members’ request to recognize and honor Past President and Aldo Leopold Memorial Award recipient Jim Miller, who passed away recently. Past President Darren Miller asked Council to consider a new award or internship reflecting Jim Miller’s contributions. Past President John Organ noted Jim Miller’s passion for recruitment and suggested an award to recognize accomplishments of young TWS members. The Southeastern Section and Darren Miller will bring a proposal for consideration at Council’s Fall 2022 meeting.

The Wildlife Society’s staff noted several operational advances during the Council meeting:

  • CEO and Council members are attending section and chapter meetings and engaging TWS members through town hall events with sections, chapters, student chapters and working groups planned for April.
  • CEO, Council and staff have had targeted engagement with key federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and potential corporate partners (e.g., Vortex Optics and wildlife consulting companies).
  • As of March 11, 2022, TWS’ membership was 11,148. This includes members who are in their free six-month “Give Back” membership. Membership appeared to plateau in 2021 but Working Group membership grew by 54%.
  • The 1000 donor program now includes 528 participating members.
  • Student membership now exceeds 3,300, up from 2,300 student members five years ago.
  • The Wildlife Society’s finances are strong. Council approved an FY 2022 budget in June 2021, and TWS is performing well versus the budget. Staff reported to Council that through Jan. 31, 2022, The Wildlife Society’s operating income was $1.56 million (vs. a budget of $1.26 million) and operating expenses were $1.27 million (vs. a budget of $1.53 million). The Wildlife Society’s investment portfolio was $3.72 million. The Society’s net assets stood at $4.04 million, a 16.8% increase from one year previous.
  • TWS staff reported that goals and tactics outlined in the Fiscal Year 2022 Operations Plans are mostly on target for completion.
  • More than 2,400 people attended the 2021 Virtual Conference, Nov. 1-5, 2021.
  • The Wildlife Society is on track with its journal publisher, Wiley, to implement graphical abstracts and transition the Wildlife Society Bulletin to open access.
  • TWS’ Certified Wildlife Biologist® program has developed a new partnership with BirdStrike Committee USA.
  • The Ronald F. Labisky Graduate Fellowship in Wildlife Policy has been announced and applications are being solicited. The first award will be given at the 2022 Annual Conference.
  • Current Government Affairs priorities include passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) and budget appropriations, policy engagement support to sections and chapters, and tracking proposed changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act among other activities.
  • Performance for the 2021 annual conference was on a par with the 2020 conference. The 2021 conference netted about $93,000 operating income and attendee satisfaction scores were higher than for the 2020 conference.

Header Image: The Wildlife Society Council members met in-person and virtually with a few TWS staff at the Spring Council Meeting held in conjunction with the 87th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources conference in Spokane, Washington. Credit: TWS