President’s Podium: Have You Answered My Question?

By Rick Baydack

Rick Baydack

I hope that you have had a productive, fun-filled, and joyful year in each of your respective endeavors that relate to our wildlife resources. For me, 2014 no doubt represents the culmination of my career as a wildlife professional, as I took on the role of President of The Wildlife Society. I remain humbled by the honor and trust that the membership has bestowed upon me, and I wish to reiterate my commitment to adhere to the principles expressed in our 2014-2019 Strategic Plan.

The five Strategic Themes in the Plan – Sustainability of wildlife; Recognized and trusted organization; Member support; Networking; Professionally managed – provide a framework for TWS to succeed in the coming years. TWS Council worked to develop an all-encompassing Plan that would resonate with all members of our Society, and with additional comments from many members, the strategies for the coming years have been set in place. And in my view, the achievements of the current Strategic Plan and its measures of success, ultimately rest with all of us as members of the best wildlife organization in the world.

To that end, and as I noted in my remarks when taking on the role of President at the Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, it is time for us to clearly express our views to society-at large on the question of ‘Why Do Wildlife Matter?’ It seems that if we each have an answer to that question, all of the Plan’s strategic directions can be better addressed and publicized.

I expect that each of us may have a different answer to the question, yet the beauty of the question, is that there is no wrong answer. Clearly each of us may have a different answer, or many answers, that differ from those of our colleagues. But I firmly believe that each of us MUST have developed our response(s) to the question. Whether you focus on consumptive reasons, wildlife viewing, cultural values, spiritual needs, personal enjoyment, or other aspects, it is time to develop an answer that you can express to others about ‘Why Do Wildlife Matter?’

But having the ‘answer’ is not sufficient. Your answer needs to be communicated to others. It is the perfect time of year with family gatherings, work-related parties, and countless other social occasions to ‘break the ice’ and ask the question of ‘Why Do Wildlife Matter?’

Why not try it out at your next outing – you might be amazed at the responses! And by each of us having our ‘own’ answer, just think of the power that we can bring forward to convince others of the importance of the work that we hold so dear to us. As Past-President Wini Kessler expressed when she became TWS President, wildlife represents ‘The Greatest Story Never Told.’ And especially at this time of year, it is time to tell your story, perhaps convince others of the importance of what we do, but also listen to and appreciate additional views and feelings that might exist ‘out there.’ I hope that you accept this challenge, and look forward to hearing from you about what happened!

And finally, all the best to you and yours during this ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year!’