TWS Report Addresses Future of the Wildlife Profession
Bethesda, MD: Developing future leaders within the wildlife profession will require new training and collaboration, according to a newly published report from a Blue Ribbon Panel of The Wildlife Society (TWS). The increasing number of current wildlife leaders that are approaching retirement and the urgent and complex nature of wildlife conservation issues demand that changes be made in educating and recruiting new professionals. Turning out well-qualified graduates will require reshaping the wildlife curriculum and encouraging more formal and informal collaboration between universities, the various sectors that employ their graduates, and professional societies. The Panel included a diverse group of leaders within the wildlife profession including university professors as well as state and federal wildlife management agencies.
“Demographic, societal, and ecological trends will impact the wildlife profession and our ability to manage and conserve wildlife and their habitats both now and in the future,” says Michael Hutchins, TWS Executive Director/CEO. “The Wildlife Society’s Blue Ribbon Panel was established to examine these trends and discuss their implications for how we recruit and train future wildlife professionals.”
A survey of state fish and wildlife agencies found that almost half of all employees, and more than three-quarters of those in leadership positions, planned to retire by 2015. Federal agencies are also losing many of their most experienced personnel: By 2007, almost two-thirds of the program managers in the U.S. Department of the Interior were eligible for retirement.
The Panel recommends that:
- The standard wildlife curriculum reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the profession and the expectations of prospective employers. A core curriculum should include natural sciences along with communications and critical-thinking skills.
- Universities, agencies, NGOs, and other employers, as well as professional societies collaborate to improve curriculum development and expand course offerings and experiential learning opportunities.
- Greater emphasis is placed on recruiting students into the field and on advising them throughout their academic careers.
- Universities and employers examine opportunities for improving recruitment and retention of under-represented groups.
- Employers support mentoring of employees throughout their professional careers and place greater emphasis on leadership development, taking advantage of partnerships with existing programs.
- Employers, academic institutions, and professional societies partner to provide academic development and life-long learning opportunities for wildlife professionals.
Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society (http://wildlife.org) is a non-profit scientific and educational association of nearly 11,000 professional wildlife biologists and managers, dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education. Our mission is to represent and serve the professional community of scientists, managers, educators, technicians, planners, and others who work actively to study, manage, and conserve wildlife and its habitats worldwide.
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