Wildlife Agency Association Picks New Leader

The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) elected Jeff Vonk, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, as its new president on Sept. 12 during AFWA’s 102nd Annual Meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

“We’re in a time of great change and how we influence national policy is central,” Vonk said. “The election is going to be a lynch pin and will present opportunities and challenges.”

In accepting AFWA’s presidency, Vonk conveyed that though it may be a daunting task to lead the Association, he intends to summon the strength of its members.

“In these uncertain times, we will all be called to act-and the call will come,” said Vonk. “I’ll call on you because collectively we do know the answers.”

Other action items on Vonk’s presidential agenda include launching a task force on the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Vonk also plans to activate a new Technology Committee and develop a cohesive strategy to protect state authority for fish and wildlife conservation.

“I’m going to work hard for you and I’ll do my best to represent this organization in a positive way,” concluded Vonk.

Vonk currently serves as the chair of AFWA’s Agricultural Conservation Committee and as a member of the Energy and Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Resource Policy and Leadership and Professional Development Committees. He also represents AFWA’s interests on the boards of the American Wind Wildlife Institute and the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. Vonk will serve as AFWA President through September 2013.

Prior to joining the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in 2007, Vonk served as Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from 2001-2006. Previously, he worked for 22 years with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

He holds an M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Maine at Orono; a B.S in Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry and a B.S. in Biology from Syracuse University.

Also at AFWA’s Annual Meeting, Dan Forster, Director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, was elected Vice President; Larry Voyles, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, was named Chair of AFWA’s Executive Committee; and Carter Smith, Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife, was named Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee. Virgil Moore, Idaho Fish & Game Department and Bob Ziehmer, Missouri Department of Conservation, were selected as new members of the Executive Committee.

To view the full slate of AFWA’s 2012-2013 Officers and Executive Committee, go to http://bit.ly/AFWAExComm