Five professionals recognized for their service

Nominations for the 2016 Distinguished Service Award will be accepted through May 1. Click on the link above to visit the Distinguished Service Award webpage or visit  to learn more about all TWS awards.

The five recipients of The Wildlife Society’s Distinguished Service Award have shown immense involvement in the national and regional areas of The Wildlife Society and have been members of the parent society for at least 20 years. Their long-term commitment is paired with great contributions to their chapter, section or international organization.

The following Distinguished Service Award winners were recognized at last year’s annual TWS conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Elston Dzus, Canadian Section

Dzus, an ecologist with the Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., currently serves as a director of the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society. His involvement with TWS began when his mentor and past president of TWS, Rick Baydack, taught a wildlife techniques course Dzus was taking as a graduate student in 1986. Dzus soon became involved in the Manitoba Chapter. “I became quite inspired by the organization and Rick’s passion, and that passion continues to inspire me,” he said.

Dzus became president-elect of the Manitoba Chapter but stepped down when he got accepted to a PhD program in Saskatchewan. In 1996, he became involved in the Alberta Chapter and was elected president-elect in 1999. Dzus was instrumental in bringing the annual TWS conference to Canada for the first time, which took place in Calgary. He was recently elected to the director’s position in the Alberta Chapter where he focuses on fundraising efforts.

Dzus said he is proud of winning the Distinguished Service Award last year. “It was a very humbling moment for me to be recognized by my peers,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to serve The Wildlife Society as I continue forward in my career.”

Bill Standley, Western Section

As a natural resource specialist for the Bureau of Land Management’s California Coastal National Monument, Standley helps implement an inventory and monitoring program for resources in the national monument and works with citizen scientists to collect information and reduce disturbance to wildlife using the monument.

Standley first became involved with The Wildlife Society as a graduate student at the Universities of Arizona Wyoming, where he went to chapter meetings and attended his first student conclave.

Soon Standley moved to California and became involved in The Wildlife Society by volunteering to help the Western section develop a website in 1997. He maintained the website for 11 years. Later, he moved to Hawaii and became involved in the chapter there, serving as a representative and chapter president.

“I’m just proud to be among such great people who do such great work,” Standley said. “I don’t think any individual accomplishment in any way surpasses just being part of such a great group.”

Stephen Rockwood, Southeastern Section

Rockwood, a section leader of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, became involved in The Wildlife Society in college. After graduating with his master’s he became involved in the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society and worked his way up from secretary treasurer to president of the chapter. Since then, Rockwood has served as president of the Southeastern Section of the Wildlife Society.

Rockwood has always had a passion for wetlands and waterfowl, and has chaired the joint Southeast Section of TWS/Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) wetlands wildlife committee for about 15 years and established the TWS Wetlands Working Group.  Additionally, he is very active with the Atlantic Flyway Council and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.

In his current position at FWC, Rockwood oversees FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration program and is working on a geospatial analysis program to assess and prioritize where they should focus restoration and enhancement activities.  When Rockwood found out he won the award, he felt he “I couldn’t have done it without the support and the help of other people, it’s a group effort” he said.

Blake Murden, Northwest Section

While Murden has traveled quite a bit, he has still maintained his involvement in The Wildlife Society. When he received the Distinguished Service Award for the Northwest Section, he was director of wildlife and fisheries in the Pacific Northwest with Port Blakely Tree Farms, a private company.

He served as president of the Washington Chapter and was a long-time board member. Murden was nominated for the award from colleagues from both Oregon and Washington chapters.

Murden recently moved to Texas and is now working as the director of land stewardship at Shield Ranches, a family-owned business.

Murden joined The Wildlife Society almost 30 years ago and became involved in the Texas Chapter. He maintained his membership with the Texas Chapter even when he moved to the northwest.

Now that Murden is back in Texas, he has been attending Texas Chapter meetings and hopes to become more involved with the chapter and possibly even take on some leadership roles once he gets settled.

“It was a surprise when I learned some of my fellow colleagues at the Oregon Chapter had nominated me, and it was very gracious on their part to think of me to be worthy of the award and to represent the Northwest Section,” he said.

Brian Hanson, Southwest Section

Hanson, who is retired from working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, received the TWS Distinguished Award for the Southwest Section. Hanson first joined The Wildlife Society in 1974 and has been actively involved since.

Hanson currently leads the Conservation Affairs committee for the New Mexico Chapter. The committee is a venue for communication, collaboration and cooperation on policy that’s important to wildlife professionals. He also is actively involved in preparation for next year’s annual TWS conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Header Image: Bill Standley was one of five Distinguished Service Award winners. His hard work and involvement in the Western Section earned him the award. Image courtesy of Bill Standley.