How many times have we all heard the phrase, “it’s all about your perspective”? It is a pretty simple phrase, yet it’s relevance spans all facets of life. Things can be viewed either as hardship or as a challenge and character builder. A tough climb becomes another downhill slope when you look down from the mountaintop. And as one movie character famously put it, “it’s only an island if you look at it from the water.” After I was announced the new Cal-Neva AFS President-Elect, I heard a question a couple of times that got me thinking a bit more about perspective: “Congratulations or condolences?” It was meant lightheartedly, and was taken as such, but it got me thinking and I can absolutely say congratulations were in order. It was a proud moment for me to hear my name mentioned as the President-Elect at the 2017 annual meeting in Eureka. It seems like each year I’ve said to myself, “When things calm down a little I’m going to get more involved.” The thing is life doesn’t seem to calm down too often. As one obligation is completed, another takes its place. So, I finally decided to go for it. I decided to run. I was unopposed in the race, but that didn’t make my achievement any less meaningful to me. After planning (with an amazing committee) a successful 2018 Annual Meeting in San Luis Obispo, I am excited about my upcoming year as President.
As with my predecessor, Laurie Earley, I plan to build on the legacy of recent Past-Presidents. This legacy includes continuing to increase transparency to the membership, turning Chapter resources into member benefits, and providing scientific guidance to management decisions. One specific cause that I intend to continue to pursue during my presidency is our focus on helping our student members to thrive and develop as they begin their journey in fisheries science. Our student subunits continually amaze me with the great work they are doing, both on their individual projects and within their communities. The future of our fisheries is in their capable hands, which makes facilitating their success a key item in my agenda.
I also hope to increase outreach, with two primary goals in mind. The first is to increase the diversity we see within our Chapter. There is an increasing focus within AFS on a paradigm shift from a society largely dominated by white males to a more inclusive and diverse society. For diversification efforts to be successful it is important that they are pursued by all levels of AFS; Chapter, Division, and Society. While in office I hope to develop a strategy to support this AFS-wide goal at our Chapter level. The second is to convey, internally and externally, that the Cal-Neva Chapter is more than simply an Annual Meeting. While that is an important aspect of what we do, it is only one item in a much longer (and growing) list of Chapter activities. It is important that we clearly communicate our relevance not only to fisheries scientists, but those outside our profession.
Lastly, we are ramping up to host the joint meeting of the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society in Reno in 2019. This is going to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity as aquatic and terrestrial biologists converge and share the latest science in their respective fields. A meeting of this size is going to require a large planning effort on behalf of the Chapter. I encourage all our membership to consider contacting the Executive Committee, particularly President-Elect Rob Titus, to get involved.
Of course, none of this is possible without a good team. I am fortunate to enter my Presidency with a capable and enthusiastic Executive Committee that is prepared to face these challenges head on. I look forward to serving the Chapter membership, and thank you for this opportunity to lead the Chapter.