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TWS President Carol Chambers takes on ‘new challenges’
New TWS president Carol Chambers says she plans to keep the Society strong through some unusual times.
“It just offers new challenges,” Chambers said of the pandemic that has impacted the wildlife profession on a number of levels, from college classrooms to fieldwork to TWS’ annual conference, which went virtual this year for the first time.
For the wildlife profession, 2020 has also brought scrutiny to the field’s lack of diversity. That’s an area Chambers plans to focus on as president. As the third woman president of TWS and a founder of the Women of Wildlife network with the Society, Chambers has long been passionate about encouraging diversity in the field and in the organization.
Chambers was a catalyst and driver behind Women of Wildlife’s work, advocating for voices less heard and helping host workshops, panel discussions and contributing articles to The Wildlife Professional. She recognizes that women don’t often put themselves out there into leadership roles, and it shows through the lack of women on Council until recently. “Women lacked a presence, and yet there are a lot of us in the profession,” she said.
Since joining in 1992, she has served in many levels of the Society. She has also been student chapter adviser at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches wildlife ecology.
In her presidency, she plans to support development of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategic plan and integrate it into TWS through various initiatives. She is working to create an ombuds office, recently approved by Council. And she plans to increase support for diversity trainings in the wildlife field. “We want to make sure people have the support they need for getting their work done,” she said.
In addition to diversity, Chambers, who began her role last month at the TWS Virtual Conference, plans to review expiring position statements during her presidency, including one on invasive and feral species that expires next October.
She also hopes to increase communication and networking within the Society, which brings on some challenges in the times of COVID-19. Chambers helped run a social networking event at the recent virtual conference for Women of Wildlife, and participants said they would like to see opportunities to have connections throughout the year, either through informal sessions, trainings or social networking.\
One tangible way she hopes to encourage communication is through developing a video competition for members to create short videos discussing what wildlife biologists do and what wildlife biology means to them — videos that could be featured at next year’s TWS conference in Baltimore. As a forestry professor at Northern Arizona University, she has already done this with her students.
Chambers also hopes to increase international engagement. She is planning to continue supporting the creation of a Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society. And under her presidency, TWS has become a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which will help keep TWS aware of international issues.
Chambers said her predecessors have already given her a head start in many of these areas.
“I’m just here to make sure TWS stays strong and continues to grow and achieve our mission to help members,” she said. “It’s not so much about me as an individual as it is about the organization and what we all can do for members.”