Meet the 2015 TWS Fellows

Twelve longtime members were recognized for their contributions to TWS and the wildlife profession at the Society’s 22nd Annual Conference in Winnipeg last October. The TWS Fellows Award is given out each year to those who have “distinguished themselves through exceptional service” to the profession and have been members for at least 10 years. We caught up with each of these great leaders to find out what the award means to them.

The deadline to nominate individuals for the 2016 group of TWS Fellows is February 15, 2016. Click here to review the criteria and to learn how to submit a nomination.

Kevin Hurley

Hurley, KevinKevin joined TWS in 1977 while working for the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho. In 1979 he became TWS certified as an Associate Wildlife Biologist and eventually went on to become a Certified Wildlife Biologist. He spent 25 years with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in various positions and now works for the Wild Sheep Foundation. Kevin’s most notable topic of research and involvement has been related to big horn sheep, though he’s also contributed on topics such as elk migrations and Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition. Among his accomplishments are two TWS “Professional of the Year” awards – one from the Wyoming Chapter in 1989 and another from the Central Mountains and Plains Section in 1990. He continues to provide insight on big horn sheep management, recently contributing to a TWS fact sheet on the impact of disease on the animals. Kevin is a charter member of The 1,000, demonstrating his leadership and commitment to our Society in the form of a $2,500 financial contribution.

“I’ve been in the wildlife profession for 40-plus years now, in various capacities and for various agencies, universities and organizations. Throughout those decades, The Wildlife Society has always been there for me, personally and professionally. I hope I have many more years of wildlife conservation left in me; being recognized by TWS as a Fellow helped refill the fuel tank!”

Jon Haufler (Past President)

Haufler, JonAs a co-founder of the Ecosystem Management Research Institute, Jon has served as executive director for the organization since 2000. He has been involved in many facets of ecosystem ecology and management including practical applications, policy discussions and theoretical evaluations. Jon served as president of TWS from 2013-2014 and is a member of The 1,000. He has been heavily involved with the Society since joining more than 40 years ago.

“Being recognized by TWS as a Fellow is a great honor to me.  I look forward to continuing to provide service to the Society in this new role.”

Barb Hill

Hill, BarbaraBefore her retirement in 2010, Barb held her position as Threatened and Special Status Species Program Manager for 17 years with the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington. Before that she spent 13 years as a Forest Wildlife Biologist for the USDA Forest Service in several states. She has served as president for two chapters — Minnesota (1986) and Oregon (1997) — and the Northwest Section just last year. Barb is a member of The 1,000 and is known for her enthusiasm in serving the needs of TWS at various levels and still sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Wildlife Professional.

“My involvement with multiple TWS Chapters, Sections and the parent Society added tremendously to my entire wildlife biologist career. Due to this great organization, I have supported, advocated and worked to enhance TWS activities and programs throughout my 30-plus year career and into retirement. To be recognized as a Fellow is exceptional highlight to all that TWS has meant to me — and I am honored to continue to be an ambassador for TWS.”

Dave Hewitt

Hewitt, DavidEditor or coeditor of two TWS award-winning books, Dave has had a distinguished career in the Society and the profession. He currently works for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University as the Stuart Stedman Chair for White-tailed Deer Research. Though his research has focused primarily on nutrition, he has worked with a wide variety of wildlife species, including ruffed grouse in Virginia, bears in Mexico and deer in Texas. Dave has served as president of the Texas Chapter and on a number of committees at the national and local levels. Adviser to 48 master’s and doctorate students, his greatest contribution to the profession may be the knowledge he has passed on.

“I have been active in TWS in many ways over the past 30 years, ranging from serving as JWM associate editor, reviewing manuscripts for TWS journals, serving on committees, and working through the Texas Chapter of TWS in a myriad of ways. Being recognized by TWS for these efforts was a wonderful honor and I look forward to continuing to serve the Society.”

Tom Ryder

Ryder, TomIn 2012 TWS decided to honor all past presidents by making them Fellows. Tom, who served his term just a few years prior, was among those past presidents who were recognized retroactively. Unfortunately, Tom was unable to accept his Fellows award in person that year and was instead presented with his award in Winnipeg. He worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for 30 years as a Habitat Biologist, District Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Management Coordinator and Assistant Wildlife Division Chief. He finished his state service in 2014 after serving as Governor Matt Mead’s Wildlife Policy adviser. Tom has been actively involved in The Wildlife Society throughout his career and is a member of The 1,000. He served as section representative for the Central Mountains and Plains Section on The Wildlife Society’s governing Council from 2002-2008 and as the Society’s president in 2011. He has also served as president of both the Wyoming Chapter and CMPS and won numerous other TWS awards.

“During my entire career, both with the Game and Fish Department here [in Wyoming] and at The Wildlife Society, I have never been honored the way I was with the Fellows award. It was the crowning honor of my career to be recognized by the society that I love so much. It’s very humbling to be recognized in that fashion when you look at the group people who have been recognized over the past years.”

Olin Rhodes

Rhodes, OlinAs Director of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia, Olin continues to be active at all levels of TWS. He has served as president of the Indiana Chapter while simultaneously sitting on the executive board for the North Central Section. During that time he shifted the focus of the state chapter back to recruitment and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students, resulting in dramatic increases in student participation at state meetings and other TWS functions. Olin and his students regularly contribute research in the form of presentations at TWS meetings and articles in TWS sponsored journals. Throughout his career, Olin has taught over 20,000 undergraduate credit hours and successfully completed 12 doctoral and 11 master’s students.

“I was delighted to be named a Fellow of The Wildlife Society and am very grateful to TWS for all of the opportunities it has provided me throughout my career. I have been and will continue to be active in TWS and am proud to count myself as a Certified Wildlife Biologist and longtime member of the organization.”

Don Yasuda

Yasuda, DonAfter two consecutive terms on Council, Don now serves as the Western Section president. An employee of the U.S. Forest Service and a Certified Wildlife Biologist, he is instrumental in regional planning and collaborative stewardship initiatives for wildlife and natural resource management in California. While on Council, Don served on the bylaws and diversity subcommittees, effectively helping to amend several TWS bylaws. He is also a member of The 1,000.

“TWS has been my passion since I became active with the Western Section in 1999. TWS is more than just a professional society for wildlifers, it’s a community of wildlife professionals that collectively builds on our history of those that came before and allows each of us to contribute to strengthen the foundation for the next generation. It’s such an honor to be selected to contribute to ensuring our strong future.”

Eric Hellgren

Hellgren, EricInitially joining TWS at the local level as a Colorado Chapter member, Eric quickly became active at the national level, joining the parent society in 1983. Between 1998 and 2001, he served as associate editor for the Journal of Wildlife Management, and he continues serve as editor for the Wildlife Monographs, a position he has held since 2007. In addition to his contributions at the national level, Eric has lead the Illinois Chapter as president in 2012, served as treasurer for the Texas and Oklahoma Chapters, and sat on several subcommittees, including two stints as a chairperson. He has also been a member of the Virginia and Florida Chapters, as well as the North Central Section and Southeastern Section – where he currently resides, teaching at the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. During his career he has taught hundreds of students, authored or co-authored over 300 professional presentations, and obtained as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator more than $4.2 million in funding and support.

“As a member for 32 years, I am greatly honored to be named a Fellow of The Wildlife Society. Serving the profession through mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, conducting basic and applied research in wildlife ecology, and editing Society journals has been a career-long pleasure.”

Jim Ramakka

Ramakka, JimA current member at all levels of TWS – New Mexico Chapter, Southwest Section and parent Society – Jim has been involved with the organization since his career began in 1970. He has dealt with many high-profile wildlife issues in his career, such as wind energy development, off-highway vehicles, and the impact of wild horse herds on rangeland. He spent much of his career with the Bureau of Land Management, finishing his tenure as National Wildlife Program Leader. Although he is now retired, Jim is a member of The 1,000 and remains a familiar face at TWS Annual Conferences and Council Meetings, attending whenever he can. He currently chairs the SW Section Conservation Affairs Committee, a committee that he was instrumental in starting and developing into one of the best in the country. Jim served as president of the Nevada Chapter from 1997-1998, chaired several committees at various levels of TWS, and served on the Program Committee for the IV International Wildlife Management Congress in 2011-2012.

“The one constant in a 45-year-long career that took me from job-to-job and literally from coast-to-coast was my membership in The Wildlife Society. To be named a Fellow of The Wildlife Society is an extremely humbling experience and I feel very honored that my peers felt that my work was worthy of this award.”

Ken Higgins

Higgins, KenBefore retiring eight years ago, Ken spent 21 years with the USGS South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, preceded by a 22-year employment at the USFWS’ Woodworth Field Station, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. He has been president of the North Dakota Chapter (1981), South Dakota Chapter (1988), and Central Mountains and Plains Section (1990), as well as secretary-treasurer for North Dakota from 1976-1978. Ken always stressed the importance of TWS meetings at all levels and presented at dozens of section, chapter and national conferences. He was awarded the Central Mountains and Plains Section’s “Professional Award” and the South Dakota Chapter’s “Wildlife Professional Award” in 1994 and 1996, respectively.

“Winning the award was great. I’m in my mid-70s and I’d been involved in The Wildlife Society since 1963.”

Steve Belinda

Belinda, SteveSteve is a Certified Wildlife Biologist who has been active with TWS for over 20 years. He has long been an advocate for and leader in energy-related wildlife management issues. His time with the Bureau of Land Management and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership helped to greatly improve the wildlife profession’s understanding of the oil and gas industry. He has served on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Wildlife Professional twice, including once as chair, and as president of the Wyoming Chapter in 2008. Steve is also a member of The 1,000.

“I am honored to be recognized by the TWS Fellow award. Working on The Wildlife Professional Editorial Advisory Board and Wyoming Chapter have been some of the most rewarding professional experiences in the past decade.”

Shawn Riley

Riley, ShawnAside from a brief stint serving as a Senior Fulbright Fellow at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, Shawn has spent the last 15 years teaching at Michigan State University. Friends and colleagues have said that his greatest strengths are his generosity, and giving his time freely for the benefit of others in the conservation community, which he advocates for vigorously. Throughout his career Shawn has relentlessly campaigned for TWS, recruiting countless students and colleagues. He regularly attends conferences and meetings and has conducted numerous peer reviews for The Wildlife Society Bulletin, of which he is an associate editor. He also co-authored “Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management,” a critically-acclaimed textbook published in affiliation with The Wildlife Society, and offered investment recommendations to the parent Society as chair of the TWS Investment Review Committee.

“The Wildlife Society has been an important part of my professional life for more than 35 years and I am honored by being recognized as a Fellow. I am anxious to continue contributing to our professional society in new and meaningful ways.”