Western Section Activities
The Western Section of TWS is doing some fantastic things for Early Career Professionals that other chapters and sections may want to emulate. They invest in early career professionals because they believe it is critical that these individuals stay engaged with TWS until they gain full time employment. Some of the programs they have implemented include an ECP membership category, reduced conference and workshop rates for members in the ECP category, and a scholarship for conference attendance. Their programs are described in more detail below. Please feel free to take these ideas and promote them within your own section or chapter so that early career professionals across the Society have better access to the resources membership can provide.
In 2010, the Western Section adopted an Early Career Professional membership category and reduced dues for members in that category. The criteria reflect the difficulty in defining an early career professional and aim to be flexible: “Early Career Professional – A member who is: a) recently employed in an entry level position; b) in a less than full time position; or c) a recently graduated student who is seeking employment in the wildlife profession.” Members are eligible to stay in the category for a maximum of five years. As of August 2015, the Western Section had about 9% of their membership as Early Career Professionals.
The Western Section also has a Strategic Plan that has a goal to “Enhance Careers of Wildlife Professionals.” It has an objective to “Have great annual meetings and professional development programs” with a task to “Make sure meetings are affordable, especially to those who are financially-disadvantaged“. Another objective is to “Improve Student and Young Professional Outreach” with a task to “Fund new professionals at meetings.” To meet these objectives, the following policies have been implemented by the Western Section:
- For their Annual Conference, they set the registration rates the same for Students, Early Career Professionals, and Retirees.
- A similar rate structure is used for their Professional Development programs where they discount student/ECP rates for members.
- In 2016, they established an Early Career Professional Scholarship for travel to the annual conference. The Western Section specifically created the ECP scholarship because they recognized that students often get ample travel support (from their institution, Student Chapters, student travel grants from most Chapters and the Section). Many ECPs have limited travel/training budgets and cannot afford to take time off work and pay for travel out of pocket. There were 5 scholarships of $500 each for “Western Section members who have a relevant Bachelor’s Degree but are unemployed, underemployed, or employed outside of the wildlife profession.”
If you have questions about any of these activities or programs, please contact the Western Section’s Membership Services chair, Don Yasuda at dyasudaTWS@gmail.com.