As my eighth year as a member of the Georgia Chapter of The Wildlife Society (GA TWS) Executive Committee, and my term as Past President, comes to a close, I can truly see how much things have changed during that time. Most importantly, the emphasis we, as a committee, are putting on including every wildlife professional in the mix. It seemed to me as both a chapter member and committee member that the emphasis was often put on academia and the real “boots on the ground” were being left out of the mix. In some cases, while talking with people it appeared that some felt alienated or at least had a misconception of the purpose of The Wildlife Society and who could participate. While I have no doubt this was unintentional, it seemed a pervasive problem.
Occasionally I would ask people why they were not a member of the GA TWS and comments such as, “I don’t have a Master’s Degree, so I can’t be a member” or “I’m not a biologist” or “I’m only a technician” were the common answers. And while I doubt such comments were ever said to any of them, there appears to be a pervasive misconception that this is the case. Academics and ongoing research is a very important aspect of wildlife management and we must continue these endeavors, as challenges become greater with burgeoning human populations, increasing invasive species concerns and the continual increase of using single tracts of property for a multitude of purposes. However, even the best wildlife management research is only as good as its application in the field, and that is only as good as the men and women that are in the field applying it.
The mission of The Wildlife Society is:
To inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation.
This mission cannot be accomplished without everyone being involved and taking an active role. I strive to include all aspects of the wildlife management arena in future meetings within Georgia. I hope to improve the diversity of presentations to include not only the latest research (both professional and student), but to also include presentations from field personnel as to what they are doing in the field to improve habitat for game and non-game species, conservation and educational initiatives, etc. and ideally improve discussions between academia and those individuals on the front line making things happen.
If you ever have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding the Georgia Chapter of The Wildlife Society, please feel free to contact me or any of your executive committee members. We are here to serve the members.
Past President, GA TWS