I just completed my fourth trip to The Wildlife Society headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. Two trips were made as Section Representative for the North Central Section, one as President-Elect and recently as President. Each time I go to headquarters, I am amazed at the work and activities conducted by our staff. We are extremely fortunate to have a staff of this caliber.
TWS presidents and officers go to TWS headquarters from time to time to build rapport with staff and to work on various issues. My first view at the office was of the pictures of all the past presidents of The Wildlife Society, which was inspiring. I had several goals to accomplish on my recent trip. First, I communicated with staff to learn about their work activities. Second, I worked with them on the upcoming agenda for the next Council meeting. Third, I met with other organizations as part of my presidential theme of Expanding the Partnership. Lastly, I worked with staff on many issues regarding our Annual Conference for this fall in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The first day was spent working with all staff to discuss their job activities and see how they fit into the Strategic Plan of TWS. Much time was spent with Executive Director Ken Williams and the directors of Government Affairs and Partnerships, Operations, and Publications and Communications. What I found amazing is the collaboration among the departments which results in increased productivity and quality of work. I’ll highlight some of their work.
Our Government Affairs staff was busy working with partners, with TWS a key member of 12 coalitions that address a range of wildlife issues, from securing adequate funding for wildlife conservation programs to preserving habitats and combating invasive species. We often sign coalition letters on major issues with groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership or the American Wildlife Conservation Partners. We are also updating fact sheets, position statements and working on our Policy Library, all of which will be very useful for the membership. Recently the policy staff and interns attended budgeting meetings with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. I certainly see how we are strengthening our role in the conservation community.
The Operations staff handles our Annual Conference, awards and award committees, development and business relationship activities, membership and organization units communications, products and services, our information technology infrastructure and our digital communications including our website and the weekly eWildlifer. A recent highlight was the development of a 50th Anniversary certificate to be presented to over a half dozen chapters celebrating their long history. Work on creating websites for chapters and sections at wildlife.org is progressing at an amazing rate; please check out our website to see the list. Our member value proposition continues to improve with new and expanded benefits. The Wildlife Partner member program continues to grow and cultivate interest in people joining TWS. Our website and eWildlifer continues to provide valuable sources of information keeping members updated on major issues, events and more.
Publications and Communications staff have been busy working on articles for The Wildlife Professional inasmuch as we are now going from four to six issues annually. Highlighting articles from our scientific journals on our website and via the eWildlifer is an important and growing activity for the publications staff, and their contributions are receiving many positive reviews from members.
Considerable time was spent on the upcoming Council meeting to be held in March in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the 81st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. Major issues discussed during my visit were the annual budget, awards, committees, membership and our publications. Additionally, the special session led by Executive Director Ken Williams on “Barriers and Bridges in Reconnecting Natural Resources and Management” will surely get much attention and will be a nice segue-way to partnership building as we lead to our annual conference.
We also worked on strategies on how to expand partnerships. We met with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies on potential opportunities for leadership training in the future. Additionally, we had communications with several other organizations regarding future collaboration. We will have more discussion in the future on the breadth of our engagement in partnerships.
Finally, we worked on several issues about the TWS Annual Conference in Raleigh this October. The theme of the conference is on Expanding Partnerships. We will have three plenary sessions, coupled with symposia, that fit nicely with the theme: 1) Partnerships Across the Spectrum of Wildlife Governance; 2) The Past, the Present and the Future of Invasive Species Control in North America: Achieving Success through Innovation; and 3) Is Sustainable Use of Wildlife Sustainable? These sessions will highlight partnerships and are meant to stimulate our discussions about future collaborations. The plenary sessions will also be the venue for presenting all our awards which we hope will amplify their importance and will shine a light on the award winners. Much effort at HQ is involved with securing sponsors for our conference and you will see many examples of this effort in Raleigh.
In this message I thought it would be good to highlight the important role our headquarters staff play in fulfilling our mission, and to say thank you! I am proud to say that our organization continues to make progress in strengthening our role as a leader in the conservation community. Our success comes from the engagement of our members, the student/state/provincial chapters and sections, our officers, committees, working groups and staff, all of whom play a vital role in the life of the Society. Whatever your niche, I thank you for your efforts in making the Society as good as it can be.
Gary E. Potts
The Wildlife Society