President’s Podium: Service to The Wildlife Society

Executive Director Ken Williams and I have written in previous communications about The Wildlife Society’s 2015-2019 strategic plan and its five broad themes. These goals are centered around helping our membership and our professional society. One of the goals of the strategic plan is service to our membership and is the focus of this article.

When I began my term as president of TWS at last year’s annual conference in Winnipeg, Canada, I initiated the phrase “WE ARE THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY.” In my service as president, I have been overwhelmed at the number of people who serve in TWS. From the student, state/provincial chapter levels, through each section and the parent society levels, there are thousands of leaders promoting our organization.

First, let’s look at past efforts by TWS members. Each day, as we look in the “mirror,” imagine seeing ourselves along with visions of those who have gone before us, and coming into view are future wildlifers. In my past visits to TWS headquarters in Bethesda, MD, I have observed the photo gallery of past presidents of TWS. These are the reflections of some of the past leaders of TWS who have paved the way for future members. Consider all the members who have gone before us and their contributions to TWS.

Today, as your current president of TWS, when I look in the mirror, this is what I see. First, I am humbled by the huge responsibility of promoting TWS, expanding partnerships, the significance of science and education, and networking with the members. During my tenure, it has been gratifying to have visited the North Central Section Student Conclave in WI, met with chapter members in IL, NE, SD and WI, and the North Central Section. I also attended the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Directors meeting and the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference where I met many leaders of various agencies, organizations and companies. At each venue, I had the privilege of networking with our membership and colleagues in the profession. Likewise, TWS Council and staff, and fellow leaders and members have also contributed their time to these or similar venues to promote TWS. As you look in the mirror today, how do you see your role in promoting the mission of our professional society?

As we visualize the future, what do we see for TWS? Do we envision new members, and members serving on a committee or working group, as an author, a mentor, a Council member, a future officer of TWS? Each of these roles as well as others is important. As we continue to work on the goals of the strategic plan and expand membership benefits, partnerships and our role in the conservation community, we will need members to serve. Which role(s) would be important to you?

However we choose to serve TWS, we all bring something to the table. We all have a part, a potential, and a place in TWS. Our image in the “mirror” should reflect a deep passion for our professional society, because WE ARE THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY.

Gary E. Potts