Former TWS President Daniel Decker receives Grinnell award

By David Frey

Former TWS President Daniel Decker has been a leader in understanding the importance of human dimensions in wildlife conservation. ©Cornell University

Former TWS President Daniel Decker received the Wildlife Management Institute’s George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation.

The award, established in honor of conservation pioneer George Bird Grinnell, honors a person who has dedicated their career to professional science, management, and conservation of natural resources and who has done so without fanfare or search for personal recognition.

“This year, our recipient not only embodies the quiet, unassuming, and immensely effective character of the award’s namesake, but he brings to those traits an inconceivable work ethic paired with an unlikely compassion for others and the resource that, in combination, epitomize the ideal of servant leadership,” WMI President Steve Williams said in presenting him the award at the 84th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver.

Decker began his more than 40-year service to natural resources in 1974 after completing a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology followed by both a master’s and PhD, all at Cornell University, where he became a tenured professor. He has served as department chair, department extension leader, director of the university’s agricultural experimental station, director of the Human Dimensions Research Unit (now the Cornell Center for Conservation Social Sciences), associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, director of the Office of Land Grant Affairs and chair of the Department of Natural Resources.

Former TWS President Daniel Decker receives the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award from Wildlife Management Institute President Steve Williams. ©Wildlife Management Institute

Prior to becoming TWS president in 2003, he served as Northeast Section President. He has also served on dozens of professional boards and committees, completed hundreds of peer-reviewed publications, authored the first human dimensions textbook and developed dozens of professional trainings and workshops.

“While he was not the first to highlight the importance of human dimensions work and the influence it has on sustainable conservation, he has arguably been the most effective and productive scientist in shepherding human dimensions from the incubator of academia into the everyday mindset of fish and wildlife management,” Williams said in his award presentation remarks.

“Dan pioneered relationships between academia and management agencies that yielded decades of effective and efficient social science inquiry that provided solutions to the wicked, real-word problems threatening the relevancy of agency-led conservation,” he said.

David Frey is managing editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at dfrey@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about his article. Read more of David's articles here.

You can follow him on Twitter at @davidmfrey.


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