Fisheries Management Section: Aiming to Support Young Professionals
In February 2014, the Fisheries Management Section (FMS) charged a committee to address the specific needs and issues facing young professionals in the fisheries field. The newly formed Young Professional Committee (YPC) was tasked with identifying potential bottlenecks in the recruitment and retention of young professional (YP) members to the American Fisheries Society (AFS). Even before the formal designation of the YPC, its members exchanged ideas and information via e-mail and conference calls, and met during AFS Annual Meetings in 2013 and 2014. Invitations were extended to the Education Section and the Student Subsection to join the YPC effort, resulting in two representatives from the Education Section and one representative from the Student Subsection joining the committee. In 2014, the YPC drafted a list of goals and objectives. The goals of the YPC are to:
- Prepare and support young fisheries professionals to remain active and engaged in AFS, and to bring resource expertise and leadership into their workplace.
- Increase coordination/involvement between FMS and other AFS Units to engage and support young professional membership in AFS.
Along with drafting goals and objectives, the YPC has been working on a project to update the FMS Hall of Excellence. We have been pairing young professionals with Hall of Excellence inductees to conduct video interviews to create an interactive version of the virtual Hall of Excellence (www.sdafs.org/fmsafs/awards/hall-of-excellence). In addition to the benefits of this project to the FMS Hall of Excellence, we are encouraging YPs to take advantage of these face-to-face meetings with some of the most influential people in the fisheries field as mentoring opportunities. To see an example of footage from these interviews go to:
The YPC is also developing a survey of fisheries professionals (AFS members and non-members) about their transition from student to young professional. The aim is to better understand why some fisheries professionals do not retain AFS membership after graduation, and to more accurately describe the transition from “student” to “professional”. During the development of the survey, the committee identified multiple potential bottlenecks (temporary jobs, limited travel funding, etc.) that may be creating obstacles for participation in AFS. These bottlenecks may indicate that the current 3 year post-graduation period underrepresents the transition from student, to young professional, to professional. This time frame is rather short considering that YPs often accept temporary positions that are rarely an extension of their student research emphasis. Time is required to settle into the routine of new employment, identify questions relevant to assigned responsibilities and compete for limited resources to develop relevant evaluation projects.
Hopefully, these efforts will begin to provide an understanding of how AFS Units can better support young professional development. For example, the FMS has provided monetary support to the YPC for the Hall of Excellence project, as well as offering free Section membership to YPs starting in 2015.
If you would like to become involved or share your experience, please contact Quinton Phelps (Chair) Quinton.Phelps@mdc.mo.gov and watch for more news in future issues of Fisheries Magazine, as well as the FMS website. Feel free to visit our website (www.sdafs.org/fmsafs) for the most current information, and more details on membership bottlenecks, strategies and objectives.
Submitted by: Hilary Meyer Hilary.Meyer@state.sd.us; on behalf of the YPC
Young professional committee members:
Quinton Phelps (Chair) Quinton.Phelps@mdc.mo.gov
Jesse Fischer (Education Section) email@example.com
Mark Fincel Mark.Fincel@state.sd.us
Marty Hamel firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Krogman (Education Section) Rebecca.Krogman@dnr.iowa.gov
Tom Lang Tom.Lang@tpwd.state.tx.us
Travis Neebling Travis.Neebling@wyo.gov
Landon Pierce (Student Subsection of the Education Section) Landon_Pierce@fws.gov
Tyler Stubbs Tylers@mdwfp.state.ms.us