The Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Scholarship was established to honor the memory of Don Rusch, who died unexpectedly in 1999, and to continue his legacy by contributing to studies of game bird biology. The award is presented annually to a graduate student studying any aspect of upland game bird or waterfowl biology and management. This award was originally intended to continue for 20 years and expire in September 2019. However, the scholarship was extended and maintained thanks to Chuck Meslow. 

Dr. Donald H. Rusch was an avid hunter and angler, with a keen interest in all aspects of game bird biology and conservation. His career in the wildlife profession included research on game birds in Canada, the United States, and South America, and contributed greatly to our understanding of ruffed grouse and Canada goose population ecology in particular.

As a teacher, Don imparted great enthusiasm to his students, encouraged them to think critically, and always maintained an open mind toward new ideas.

As a scientist, Don believed in the value of long-term research over the entire geographic range of a species to provide comprehensive understanding of population ecology.

As a manager, he advocated the wise use of our wildlife resources, and emphasized the importance of scientific research to improve our understanding of wildlife populations and their conservation.

The first scholarship was announced during The Wildlife Society’s 7th Annual Conference in 2000.


To apply for consideration, click here to learn about the criteria and the application process.
Application forms must be submitted by May 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM EDT.


2023 Cailey Isaacson, University of North Dakota
2022 James Lee, New Mexico State University
2021 Alexander Fish, University of Maine
2020 Colby R. Slezak, University of Rhode Island
2019 Casey M. Setash, Colorado State University
2018 Kaitlyn K. Rush, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
2017 Andrew Olsen, Oregon State University
2016 Victoria Simonsen, University of Nebraska
2015 John P. Severson, University of Idaho
2014 Katrina Alger, State University of New York
2013 Aaron Robinson, Brigham Young University
2012 Stephanie Graham, Utah State University
2011 Erik Blomberg, University of Nevada–Reno
2010 Meadow J. Kouffeld, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
2009 Lance McNew, Kansas State University
2008 Brian Hess, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
2007 David A. Miller, Iowa State University
2006 Dominic Bachman, Humboldt State University
2005 Kevin E. Doherty, University of Montana
2004 Jed Meunier, University of Wisconsin, Madison
2003 Guthrie S. Zimmerman, University of Minnesota
2002 Patrick Devers, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2001 Michael A. Gregg,  Oregon State University
2000 Ben C. West,  Utah State University