The 2012 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference was held last week (March 12-17) in Atlanta, GA. Cynthia Jacobson (MS ‘96, PhD ‘06) and Professor Dan Decker (BS ‘74, MS ‘76, PhD ‘86) were co-organizers (with John Organ and Chris Smith) of an Agency Transformation workshop. This was the third day-long workshop the group has offered agency and NGO leaders (2010, 2011, 2012) at this conference. The agency transformation topic is informed and motivated by Cindi’s doctoral dissertation research, conducted when she was a graduate student in Natural Resources. Ashley Dayer (PhD candidate) participated in the workshop.
Department staff and graduates also contributed to a conference special session titled “Integrating Human Dimensions Knowledge and Wildlife Disease Management.” The session was organized by Professor Shawn Riley (PhD ’98 and former postdoc in the Human Dimensions Research Unit) and Shauna Hannisch. Two of the four featured paper presentations were either given by or included DNR staff as coauthors. Dr. Bill Siemer (PhD ‘09), research associate in the Human Dimensions Research Unit, reported on a study he, Sr. Research Associate Bruce Lauber (PhD ‘96), Dan Decker and Shawn Riley are working to identify fish and wildlife health management capacity needs for state agencies. Dr. Margaret Wild, chief of the wildlife health program for National Park Service gave a paper on the communication considerations associated with a “one health” approach to wildlife health management, co-authored with Dan Decker and others. Dan Decker wrapped up the special session with summary comments that emphasized the need for integrating research-based human dimensions knowledge into policy, planning and practice for wildlife disease management, and also reinforced the need to be deliberate in communicating about wildlife disease so as to avoid unwarranted magnification of public risk perceptions.
Additionally, Phd candidate Ashley Dayer contributed to bird conservation meetings at the conference. She serves on the Council for Partners in Flight (www.partnersinflight.org). This invitation-only body makes decisions to guide the activities of the international land bird conservation initiative. Ashley also presented in the Partners in Flight/Waterbird/Shorebird Working Group on the results of a webinar series she led to aid state agency employees in learning about bird conservation tools and resources. With tight budgets, agency staff are increasingly limited in their ability to travel, making such innovative approaches to connect and share resources essential.