Mexico conference organizers receive TWS Group Achievement Award

When Tad Theimer attended his first joint meeting of the Arizona and New Mexico chapters of The Wildlife Society, he was surprised by something that he saw on a PowerPoint slide showing the Society’s various sections and chapters. He saw the Southwest Section included not just Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Mexico was on the list, too, but not in bold face like the others, with an asterisk beside it.

“That was in 1987, and Mexico has remained on the list ever since, still not bolded, still with that nagging asterisk after it,” recalled Theimer, president of the Southwest Section and professor of biological sciences at Northern Arizona University.

But that may change. The organizing committee for two national conferences on wildlife management and conservation in Mexico was awarded the TWS Group Achievement Award. The conferences were spearheaded by longtime TWS members Raul Valdez and Luis Tarango-Arambula, who hope the conferences are a springboard to creating a Mexico Chapter of TWS.

“I believe official recognition of this group by TWS through this award would do much to further that goal,” wrote Theimer in his nomination letter.

Taking place in 2018 and 2019, the conferences were the first of their kind in Mexico.

“People came from all over the country,” said Valdez, professor emeritus and research affiliate at New Mexico State University’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, who provided much of the funding out of his pocket.

Aided with contributions from TWS, the two conferences brought together hundreds of attendees — both students and professionals — to San Luis Potosí.  Fidel Hernandez, a former Southwest Section representative to TWS Council, spoke at the first conference and translated for TWS President Gary White, who addressed the second.

“I see the need for a wildlife management program in Mexico,” said Tarango-Arambula, a professor at the campus of the Colegio de Postgraduados, Campo San Luis Potosí, where he and Valdez have been working to establish a program to train wildlife professionals. “There are several institutions that are really interested in having a complete program in wildlife management but they don’t have the personnel.”

Valdez is hoping to create an endowment to fund a Mexico chapter. If it’s successful, Tarango-Arambula said, “I want to be the first Mexican president of the first Mexican chapter.”

For Theimer, the fledgling conferences are reminiscent of the birth of TWS at the first North American Wildlife Conferences in 1936 and 1937.

“By giving this group the recognition it deserves,” he wrote, “we are honoring that same spirit, that same dedication to the wildlife resource that first built TWS.”

Click here to see the complete list of award recipients.

Header Image: Longtime TWS members Luis Tarango-Arambula, left, and Raul Valdez, spearheaded a pair of wildlife conferences in Mexico and hope to launch a TWS chapter in the country. Credit: TWS