The Wildlife Society Council held two meetings in Reno prior to and during the joint conference with the American Fisheries Society. The major actions and discussion topics from those meetings are shared below.
The complete council minutes will be published in the Your Membership section of wildlife.org after they are approved by council.
- Directing staff to consider developing a “Mentorship for Life” program within TWS’ Professional Development program area that will be managed by TWS staff within existing operations plans and budgeting framework.
- Conducting a review of the TWS standing position statement on traps, trapping, and furbearer management, considering the recommendations offered by the Hunting, Trapping, and Conservation Working Group and other interested members.
- Creating and distributing AWB® and CWB® pins to all active certified TWS members, with the initial allocation funded by the Western Section of TWS.
- Adopting the TWS Document Retention and Destruction Policy proposed by the CEO in collaboration with legal counsel.
- Transferring $27,643.93 from the Council Action Fund to the Endowment Fund as per the late Jack Lyon’s request. Following the receipt of Lyon’s bequest with no specific instructions, staff was able to determine the bequest was related to a pledge he had made many years ago during a fundraising campaign for the Endowment Fund.
- Increasing the operating budget expense cap for this fiscal year by $5,000
- As a result of council discussion related to recommendations from The Western Section of TWS and the Ethnic and Gender Diversity Working Group, charged the Diversity Subcommittee with:
- Reviewing TWS governance documents to strengthen and clarify their policies regarding discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying.
- Exploring the consequences of TWS joining the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment on STEMM and related obligations.
- Developing a description and operating framework for a TWS ombudsperson.
- Reviewed the job description for the editor in chief of the Wildlife Society Bulletin that will be posted following the conference. Dr. David Haukos will be completing his term in June 2020.
- Authorized the CEO to work with TWS’ investments manager to create new endowment funds, on an as-needed basis, to comply with the wishes of potential donors, provided those wishes are consistent with the values and mission of TWS.
- Encouraged the Bylaws Subcommittee to continue development of a revised bylaws draft that would remove operating procedures from the bylaws and move those procedures to a council procedures document. The new draft will be shared with council in March, and if approved, would then be voted on by TWS members in May-June 2020.
- As a result of council discussion related to a recommendation from the Student Development Working Group, charged the Certification Liaison Ad hoc Committee with defining what qualifies as an “unofficial transcript” and their recommendation as to whether they should be accepted by the Certification Review Board.
- Asked the International Wildlife Management Working Group to develop a 10-year plan for TWS international activities in collaboration with the Future of TWS International Involvement Ad hoc Committee.
- Created a Decision Process for Spending Council Action Fund Ad hoc Committee to:
- Develop a format for requests to council for funding at the annual spring council meeting.
- Develop guidelines on eligibility for funding.
- Develop a decision process for council to prioritize requests for funding.
- Appointed the 2019-2020 Council Subcommittees.
Council Discussion Highlights:
- Discussed the importance of supporting diversity and inclusion efforts that impact the success of wildlife professionals and students while striving to avoid splintering the organization.
- Discussed the 2019-2020 presidential agenda that will focus on the importance of science and gaining recognition for it in political circles. President White reinforced the need to develop and document clear procedures for peer review.
- Reviewed progress on developing a licensing agreement with the Canadian Section, which is now a standalone incorporated entity to facilitate it achieving tax-exempt status in Canada. The licensing agreement will establish the legal framework that allows the Canadian Section to operate similarly to all other sections while still recognizing its independent corporate status in Canada. Only minor work remains before completing the agreement. Thereafter, options related to how Canadian chapters and student chapters will be affiliated will be addressed.
- Reviewed options related to the current staff headquarters and related annual operating expenses. Over the past two years, TWS staff has created a highly successful telecommuting operations process while performing at a very high level. Headquarters usage is just 25%, prompting a review of whether the current amount of space is still needed (at a cost of $51,000 annually). If one or both of the current office spaces were sold, the proceeds could be invested and generate income to the benefit of TWS and its members. Council directed the CEO to investigate options in more detail and present them at the March 2020 Council Meeting.
- Discussed recommendations from the Hunting, Trapping, and Conservation Working Group related to the TWS Wildlife Killing Contests Issue Statement. The Position Statement Subcommittee reviewed the working group’s recommendations and disagreed with those recommendations, so the dialogue was continued with the full council. No changes were proposed by council.
- Discussed the strong level of student engagement at the conference and their interest in:
- Building a student affairs network
- More outdoor conference activities
- Having a stronger voice on council with a voting presence
- Better understanding of why student conference rates are higher than those at some other society conferences
- Engaged in discussions with the following leaders that included updates on their organizations’ activities and potential future collaboration opportunities:
- Elveda Martinez, president of the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society
- Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
- Lisette Waits, president-elect of the National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs
- Decided not to approve a proposed site for the 2022 Annual Conference since the only available dates at that location fell during Halloween. Council was concerned about the potential impact on families. Staff will continue to explore other location options.
- Ten students were able to participate in the Native Professional Development Program and attend the Joint Conference through the support of TWS and our partners.
- TWS members addressed council regarding a variety of topics, including:
- Appreciation that TWS journals access is a free member benefit.
- Concerns related to the amount of publicity for the member comments period for the Strategic Plan which was approved by council in May, 2019.
- Appreciation for council’s support of the Out in the Field community efforts.
- Questions related to ExComm policy letters.
- Funding opportunities for TWS communities.
- Increasing sustainable use efforts at conferences.
- TWS membership grew by more than 4% for the fourth consecutive year. As of June 30, paid membership was 10,601 (+454 members). Including members who are in their free six-month “Give Back” membership, TWS has 11,330 members.
- Student membership now exceeds 3,000 (3,115) versus just 2,247 five years ago.
- The 2019 fiscal year operating budget closed with a net income surplus of $160,000, pending final review by the auditors. Council will have the option to move those funds into one of TWS’ investments funds to benefit our members.
- Including investments, TWS’ financial position improved by $226,000 versus last year.
- TWS’ net assets (assets minus liabilities) increased 12% over last year to $2.1 million.
- The Society’s total investments portfolio stood at $2.59M at the end of the fiscal year.
- TWS staff achieved seven of nine goals and 56 out of 60 tactics (93%) outlined in the Fiscal Year 2019 Operations Plans.
- More than 4,300 people attended the 2019 Joint Conference in Reno, including 2,284 TWS attendees.
Share your thoughts on this article, and others, on our Facebook and Twitter pages.