President’s Message from Rob Titus

Greetings everyone in Cal-Neva AFS and beyond. I am excited about writing this column, especially because it is my first since stepping up to the presidency in October. I am happy to have this opportunity to address the membership, recap briefly what we’ve been up to recently, and where we are headed over coming months.

Assuming the post of chapter president has been an amazing journey. It all started with literally being pulled in out of the rain by Ramona Swenson and Kelly Souza at the San Luis Obispo meeting in March 2018. No sooner had I soggily stumbled into the banquet room and been informed that I was the new President-Elect was I swept into the initial stages of planning the behemoth Reno meeting. What lay ahead was 18 months of intense planning, site visits, and arrangements working with Chapter and Division volunteers, AFS and TWS staff, and fishery professionals all around the country. While daunting but awesome at the same time, we did it (!!!) and the meeting was a huge success. We had nearly 2,100 attendees on the AFS side and not only met the Chapter’s baseline payout of $50,000 but are also looking at additional profit sharing between parent society, Western Division, and the Chapter. A huge thanks to everyone that stepped up and contributed to making this meeting a very enriching and memorable one! A special shout out to Shawn Johnston at AFS headquarters for navigating us through the process and making sure that our joint social with the Sacramento-Shasta Chapter of TWS was the perfect networking capstone of the meeting!

With the Reno meeting in the books and feeling barely recovered, we immediately launched planning for the upcoming “hangover” meeting, set at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom during March 15-17, 2020 and to be held in tandem with the Interagency Ecological Program annual workshop March 18-20. President-Elect Dave Lentz is at the helm of planning the meeting around the theme, “Fisheries Success Stories.” Registration for the meeting is open and the submission period for presentation abstracts continues through February 28, 2020. We are especially encouraging members of the fishery management community to join us for this meeting, but naturally all are welcome. See the meeting link for further information.

The Cal-Neva ExComm held its annual full-day retreat two weekends ago here in Sacramento. One of the things that happens at the retreat is that the president rolls out their work plan for the year. The main themes of my work plan are to: 1) build membership through recruitment, retention, and reactivation with an emphasis on re-engaging the fishery management community in Cal-Neva; 2) expand outreach activities for recruitment, especially at the student level, and to take Cal-Neva to the public; and 3) expand the scope of conservation activities to include the development of position papers on particular topics (see the complete work plan here, or on the Chapter’s Governance webpage). My work in 2020 will also include representing the Chapter at the Western Division AFS meeting in Vancouver, BC in April, and at the Society’s 150th anniversary annual meeting in Columbus, OH in August. Thanks to all the ExComm members that gave up their Sunday to work on behalf of the Chapter, and a special thank you to Lisa Thompson for making space arrangements and to Regional San for allowing us to camp out for the day in their comfy meeting room.

As I wrap up this column, I want to reflect on the fact that while it is our common interests and passions for fish, fisheries, and aquatic habitats that bring us together, it is the people of this membership that make Cal-Neva AFS go. At the annual chapter business meeting in Reno, two new officers assumed their posts: Dave Lentz as President-Elect, and Jose Setka as Treasurer. Jose takes over from long-time ExComm ironman Jim Hobbs who has now stepped up to take over as chapter historian. Brian Marhardja is calling it good in his role as Continuing Education chair and graciously found his own replacement, Stephanie Durkacz. Shawn Chase is retiring professionally after a 35-year career and has resigned as chair of the Native Fishes Committee, as well. Damon Goodman has taken over in that role. Maddelyn Harden has resigned as Exhibits chair and Andrew Hampton will be joining the ExComm in that post. Many thanks to all, both coming and going, for their dedication and service to the Chapter, and a special congratulations to Shawn Chase on his retirement.

That’s about where we are. It is truly an honor to be entrusted with serving as president for such an inspiring assemblage of scientists. Even at this stage of my career, this experience has greatly broadened my professional horizons, and while a lot of work has also been equally fun! I want to both acknowledge and thank my mentoring team, Past-Presidents Laurie Earley and Steve Brumbaugh, for everything that they have done to teach me the ropes of doing this gig. I have greatly appreciated your example, patience, encouragement, and absolutely fantastic camaraderie in carrying out the duties of this post.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Folsom next month.

Rob Titus
Cal-Neva Chapter President