To gain a little perspective prior to writing this article, I looked back at previous Wild Sides from our Past Presidents. I’m a true believer in the old adage that we won’t know where we are going if we don’t know where we have been. I also feel that we are not able to really appreciate a smooth road with a nice view if we never experienced a rough road with horrible scenery (I’ll refrain from naming any flat states in the middle of the country). I was rereading an article penned by Past President McNaughton in the October 2013 FAWN. Following an annual meeting attended by only 30 members in the immediate wake of sequestration, his article started with these words: “morale hasn’t been this low in a long time”. While we always have work ahead of us and trials to overcome, I feel that we are looking at those times in the rear-view mirror. And although we should glance back on occasion, we need to keep our eyes fixed on the road ahead.
With this in mind, I feel a serious sense of progress. An alternate opening under consideration for this article was “PROGRESS!” We are talking a serious change of tune from 2013, when only a handful of us were able to travel and attend our Annual Meeting. This was a portion of the reason for the low morale referenced by President McNaughton. While our ability to travel to meetings has not changed dramatically over the last half-decade, there have been steps in the right direction every year. This year we had a signed OSD Support Memo by September. That memo is available on the NMFWA website and was sent out via our listserv. Each of the military services are working through their respective processes to send personnel. Department of Army already has an approved list of attendees. The work and support of those instrumental in acquiring these endorsements is greatly appreciated and reflects the importance of our meeting.
Although we put significant effort into our Annual Meeting and Training Workshop, we are a year-round association. It is important to reach out to new hires within the DoD Natural Resources community and let them know the Association has a broad member- ship available with the same mission and whose members are eager to answer questions and share information.
In August, I attended one of the DoD Migratory Bird Treaty Act training classes. I instantly recognized several participants and instructors from prior NMFWA meetings. During our first morning break some attendees came over to say hello and quickly catch-up. By lunch time, a woman approached me and asked how I knew so many attendees since I was not local. I then broke out into my NMFWA spiel. I explained who we are and what we do, how I too was new at one point and that meeting other NMFWA members influenced my work and career. I let her know how to join and gave her a few names of people to reach out to for questions within her Service Branch and within her geographic region. I’m sure if I see her again, she too will have a familiar face with whom to discuss current happenings.
I know that for some Services, the deadline for name submission to attend our meeting may have passed. However please look around your respective Services and regional areas for per- sonnel new to DoD or with new job duties. Our members are our best resource for outreach and communication. The woman I referenced earlier works as the sole Natural Resources person at her installation and had no one to mentor her or provide advice. That’s a major role for NMFWA!
Election time is fast approaching, and no, I’m not talking about the current POTUS election (again, comments will be withheld). I’m talking about your NMFWA Board of Directors. Past President Coralie Cobb will be accepting nominations soon. Please look around, see if there is anyone who you believe would be an asset to your Board or if you want to be more involved. If you’re unsure of the requirements and duties, please reach out to Coralie or myself. A Regional Director position is a great place to start on the Board. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is a role for everyone. If a board position is not quite right for you at this time, we have focused committees that can always use a hand. Look for more specific requests in this edition and upcoming listserv request.
Summer flew by, fall fast approached and we are quickly nearing the end of 2016. I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!
Liz has been working with DoD natural resources since 2008. She currently works for Colorado State University’s (CSU) Center for Management of Military Lands (CEMML) as a Wildlife Research Biologist. She possesses expertise in planning and implementing wildlife monitoring and habitat management projects on DoD lands nationwide that assist in supporting the military mission.