Leadership Does Not Require Titles, Just Like This Symposium

Symposium

SESSION NUMBER: 30

Symposia will be available on-demand on their scheduled date, then again at the conclusion of the conference.

 
Since 2006, The Wildlife Society (TWS) has annually organized the Leadership Institute, a six-month course that provides leadership training to early-career professionals. TWS started this course with a firm belief that training members in leadership topics was a responsibility of the organization, with the urgency of this responsibility evidenced by a significant portion of retiring wildlife professionals leaving many roles to fill for new professionals. In addition, opportunities to instill a leadership ethic and gain valuable leadership skills occur throughout TWS?s organizational structure, from the student chapter to national levels. Those involved in these opportunities as either past or present coordinators, supporters, or participants will provide insights on various challenges facing wildlife professionals today, weaving a thread of how leadership training and fundamentals can bring about positive results both professionally and personally. Our goal is to demonstrate the success and wide-ranging impact of TWS?s leadership training opportunities in many aspects of our work, from academia to government agencies, work life balance to organizational visions, and leading the way as change agents and mentors of the next generation of wildlife professionals.

The Wildlife Society and Evolving Leadership Training Opportunities
Jamila Blake
The Wildlife Society’s flagship leadership training program, the Leadership Institute, was established in 2006. Each year, the Leadership Institute delivers an immersive training program to a select group of early career wildlife professionals, with a goal of building essential leadership skills and capacity in their current and future roles in the wildlife profession. From May through October, ten (10) participants, selected by a committee from a strong pool of applicants, engage in a variety of distance learning and hands-on projects, which include reading and interpreting leadership materials, presenting to peer groups, working collaboratively with each other, leading discussions, and developing a greater understanding of how to apply leadership to their professional career. Throughout the 6-month program, participants will engage with Leadership Institute alumni and TWS Council members, work collaboratively to understand a wide array of leadership styles and perspectives, develop stronger written and verbal communication skills, and learn how to better navigate the conservation field. The Leadership Institute continues to evolve to meet the needs of today’s and future wildlife professionals and prepare members to take on leadership roles within the Society and throughout the profession. There are numerous leadership opportunities in the Society, such as chapter and section officers, committees, Certification Review Board, Editorial Advisory Board, and TWS Council. These leaders are integral in the growth and success of TWS. The Wildlife Society also works with partner organizations to support the leadership development of members through each stage of their career.
Student Chapter Leadership Opportunities
Carol Bocetti
Student Chapters of The Wildlife Society offer early opportunities for students to begin fostering leadership experience. With or without a title, students will only feel empowered as leaders if they are given real responsibilities within the Student Chapter. As a Student Chapter Advisor for the last 15 years, I have been committed to the philosophy of mentoring students with suggestions for service-learning or professional development activities and advice for decision-making, but leaving all decisions and implementation up to them. I have also strongly encouraged student peer-mentoring to promote engagement of underclassmen during their freshman year and to initiate their path to leadership positions. For example, students are expected to job shadow before they run for an officer position. To reinforce the mission of leadership development, our Student Chapter not only has six officer positions, but we also created a Board of Representatives to include members from each class rank with a Senior Chair. We also regularly assign important duties to members who do not have an official title. Every member has the opportunity to take responsibility for a service-learning project or professional development activity, including networking with professional contacts, arranging the project or activity, coordinating transportation, monitoring attendance, and evaluating the project or activity success. I use positive feedback, including recognition during weekly meetings, to identify successful leadership accomplishments.
We Need Leadership at All Levels
Patrick Lederle
Leadership is different from supervision or management. Supervision is important for prioritizing, planning, and coordinating sometimes very complex projects. Leadership is less task oriented and requires inspiring, motivating and enabling people to do their best work. Leadership is characterized by a set of habits and practices exhibited by individuals, and everyone can be a leader. Leadership is not a position; it is a way of behaving. Today, effective leadership in the conservation community is more important than ever. Changing demographics, changing value orientations, more diverse challenges, and more wicked problems to confront all contribute to the difficulties confronted every day by dedicated professionals. Traditional approaches have been very successful, yet challenges today require new ways of thinking, acting, and engaging, and effective leadership has never been more important. There are many national level leadership programs; all excellent programs, yet are time consuming and limited to a few individuals. To introduce students and early career professionals to a variety of leadership topics, the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society, in collaboration with the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has provided day-long workshops on the habits and practices of effective leaders annually at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference. The objective is to expose individuals to leadership topics so the interaction and learning will lead to additional individual efforts in the future. Workshops have included 20 to 40 participants, with broad representation of students and State, Federal and Tribal employees. Topics have included, adaptive leadership, wildlife governance principles, collaborative governance, contemporary challenges in conservation, perspectives from career professionals, plus exercises and readings designed to interest current and future leaders. While anecdotal, we are seeing past participants making successful efforts to advance into more challenging leadership training and leadership positions.
Prioritizing Career Development in a Demanding Workplace
Shelby Adams
Life is changing for traditional wildlife biologists. New challenges continue to arise in our field with shifting priorities and increased demands for our time and the resources we manage. Changing stakeholder demographics, increasing pressure on multiple-use public lands, and growing nuisance and invasive species issues have challenged professionals beyond the expectations of our predecessors. These challenges are often paired with decreased funding and fewer employees. As agencies face budget cuts, leadership trainings and mentoring opportunities are often the first to be eliminated; travel expenses and time away from traditional job duties to participate in professional development are not prioritized. However, skills acquired, and relationships built during these activities increase employee effectiveness, develop communication skills, and lead to public engagement success. As wildlife organizations increase community engagement, biologists become more visible in their communities, often taking more public-facing local leadership roles. As professionals, we have personal responsibility for our own professional growth and to sustain the willingness to learn and succeed in these new environments. Consequently, it is critical that organizations foster employee interest and participation in professional development that can prepare novel skills in the evolving wildlife profession. As technology improves, there are increased opportunities for remote learning and communications with mentors and collaborators across the globe. The Wildlife Society can help cultivate commitments from employee organizations, demonstrating the benefit of continuing education and networking that occurs at conferences, or more intensive programs like TWS’s Leadership Institute. Career development remains an essential part of delivering wildlife conservation efficiently and effectively, now and into an increasingly challenging future.
New Collaborations As a Direct Result of Prioritizing Leadership Training
Kelly VanBeek
While leadership training clearly results in professional development and long-term benefits to employees and thus their organizations, these trainings can also lead to tangible outcomes that advance wildlife conservation through new collaborations that may not otherwise exist. Scientific publications, symposia organization, and new communication tools are just some of the examples of work products that have resulted from my participation in leadership training. Many of these events have had further ripple effects, expanding my network and thus my ability to leverage knowledge and capacity in my job. Leadership training pays for itself in multiple ways, and identifying successful work outcomes is one way to continue facilitating support for these opportunities.
But I’m Not the Boss! Leading Peers
Jennifer Malpass
What if you want to be a leader, but no one reports to you? Many people think that a certain title is required to be a leader within an organization or perhaps you need some other kind of permission to be “allowed” to be a leader. This talk will explore misconceptions related to who can be a leader, and demonstrate the distinction between leadership and management. I will highlight ways all wildlifers can grow as leaders throughout their careers, independent of their job responsibilities or title. I will also place special emphasis on the role that peer leadership plays in increasing inclusion, diversity and equity with the wildlife profession.
Mentors in Academia – Leading Students and Creating New Leaders
Rachael E. Urbanek; Lara Pacifici
Increases in college enrollment coupled with a long-term decline in hunting and fishing has led to a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives among current wildlife majors. Herein, we provide our perceptions as faculty that entered professional academia as new professors 10 years ago. We will discuss our experiences mentoring wildlife students in traditional land grant wildlife management programs and in departments with broader natural resource visions. Students benefit from non-academic mentors to explore career interests without pressure of fulfilling course credit. As such, we will discuss how the North Carolina Chapter of TWS (NCTWS) has established a successful mentoring program that has paired professionals and students across the state for year-long relationships. While still in its infancy, this program connected 65 students from 4 North Carolina Universities to 42 professionals from 6 agencies over the last 4 years. In order to embolden new leaders from younger generations, we will discuss specific classes aimed at boosting confidence in networking and understanding the culture of wildlife conservation professionals. These courses are often tied to the annual NCTWS or TWS meetings where we encourage students to volunteer in helping run the meeting (e.g., as moderators) or joining NCTWS committees. Thus, we will end with examples of how state chapters can incorporate students and engage them as future leaders.
Advancing the Vision of a Field Station
Auriel Fournier
Forbes Biological Station, has a long and rich history of ecological field research, starting with Stephen Forbes in 1894, and more recently giants in waterfowl ecology like Frank Bellrose. The field station provides a unique space to focus on applied ecological work, in close concert with land managers from state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. This gives the freedom to work on explore new lines of inquiry (lead shot impacts) that might not otherwise be pursued because of the lack of short term payoffs. I started as the Director at Forbes Biological Station in summer 2019, and will speak about my thoughts on building on a research program with a deep legacy and building it into something of my own, in combination with the staff and students who make the station an effective, enjoyable and exciting place to work.
Advancing Wildlife Health Management Through Effective Leadership
Daniel Walsh
Managing for the health of wildlife is a so called “wicked problem” owing to the complex ecological and socio-political processes interwoven throughout the system. Successful management is therefore predicated on the ability to leverage multiple disciplines and varying expertise, which is often housed in regulatory and non-regulatory entities. Additionally, for many wildlife health issues, a legal or legislative mandate for action is conspicuously absent. Furthermore, the general public often has multiple competing objectives surrounding wildlife systems and their health. Against this backdrop, how can you become a leader and promote the health of the natural world? How can you lead multiple entities towards a common health goal, when each has its own organizational structure and you are effectively an “outsider”? What is the difference between leadership and collaboration? How do you measure success as a leader? We will grapple with these topics, realizing there is no simple or single answer to these questions. Rather, I will provide my perspective and philosophy based on my experiences as a researcher at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. These ideas are the product of an on-going learning process characterized by more failures than successes. Therefore, I will describe one route that I believe can be taken to be an effective leader of the wildlife community with the goal of tackling the “wicked problem” of managing for the health of systems. I will illustrate these concepts using chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer as a case-study. Protecting the health of the natural world is increasingly monumental task, and there is a dire need for individuals to lead this fight before it is too late. Are you willing to answer the call?

 
Organizers: Shelby Adams, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta, MI; Krisha Faw, Nutter & Associates, Inc., Athens, GA; Tyler Harms, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Boone, IA; Kelly VanBeek, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Madison, WI
 
Supported by: The Wildlife Society, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Symposium
Location: Virtual Date: September 29, 2020 Time: -