The Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management, RWFM, hosted its first annual Wild Game Awards Banquet on April 9. During this time, the successes of students, staff and faculty and their brilliant contributions to the department were celebrated. The most recent department awards began with recognizing last year’s winners.
2021 Excellence Awards
- 2021 RWFM Excellence Award for Translation and Implementation:Morgan Treadwell, Ph.D.
- 2021 RWFM Excellence Award for Support Staff: Brittany Chesser
- 2021 Teaching Award for Undergraduate Education: Roel Lopez, Ph.D.
- 2021 RWFM Teaching Award for Graduate Education:David Matarrita, Ph.D..
2022 Excellence Awards
- 2022 Excellence Award in Discovery and Innovation: Tammi Johnson, Ph.D.Johnson joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Uvalde, Texas, as Assistant Professor of Wildlife Disease Ecology in October 2018. Her studies have projected that eradication of bovine babesiosis from the U.S. resulted in a savings of an estimated $3 billion annually. Her nominator stated that “Her dedication to improving human and animal health through integration of wildlife management, veterinary medicine, and environmental science is the basis for my nomination.”
- 2022 RWFM Excellence Award in Translation and Implementation:Todd Sink, Ph.D.. Sink’s nominator wrote “Dr. Sink’s innovation and expertise are exemplified through numerous traditional and novel extension activities he has developed. I was only able focus on his innovative creation and work within the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory, ADL, or Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service as a detailed example of his efforts to respond to the emerging needs of Texas. Dr. Sink’s service to the aquaculture industry through the ADL has been exceptional, with approximately 1,870,000 fish valued at $5.97 million saved due to expedient disease diagnostics. Most samples can be processed for as little as $250 and, in most cases, positive confirmation of a bacterial pathogen can be accomplished just three days from the time a sick fish is found.”
- 2022 RWFM Excellence Award for Support Staff: Mary Pearl Meuth. Mary Pearl Meuth joined the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department in 2014. She serves as the Texas Master Naturalist’sAssistant State Program Coordinator where she manages and oversees the state’s chapters and volunteers and works with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,TPWD, to coordinate the two agencies’ roles in the program. Her nominator stated, “She makes my job and the job of others working around her easier, she works with dedicated motivation, a love for her program and nature, and overall elevates RWFM’s reputation with thousands of people across the state.”
- 2022 RWFM Excellence Award in Undergraduate Education: David Matarrita, Ph.D. In his nomination, one person wrote, “David is one of those people who were meant to teach. He always went the extra mile for his students. He set high standards and expectations that were both challenging and fulfilling for students beyond the classroom. He is an inspiration for students who learn to believe in themselves and is passionate about community development as his works is an exemplary example for students to aspire to. David delivers his teachings so well that he prepares students for the career of their dreams and provides the educational tools they need to go far in life.”
- 2022 RWFM Excellence Award in Graduate Education: Michael Morrison, Ph.D.. The nominator wrote, “Dr. Morrison is a man with a reputation for being blunt and honest. Many people and students that get the opportunity to work with him value these traits and his willingness to teach the next generation of conservationists. Not only that, but he has also generated millions of dollars in grant money and contracts to support wildlife research and conservation. He is an exceptional educator, productive scientist, and I am overwhelmingly convinced that he deserves this honor for his excellence in graduate education.”
Graduate Student Awards
- 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year (Ph.D.) Award: Benjamin Hoose
- 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year (Master’s) Award: Madeline Thornley
- 2022 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award: Allison Pullin
Undergraduate Student Awards
- Garrett Stamport: Garrett he has conducted research studies evaluating growth rate and feed conversion efficiency in niche species like the Bermuda Chub and Atlantic Spadefish. His research was presented at the 2021 Aquaculture America Conference for the World Aquaculture Society and is funded by several entities. Since 2020, Garrett has served as Secretary for the Texas A&M AFS student subunit. Garrett is currently President-Elect for the subunit where he continues to coordinate events. His nominator stated: “There is no question that Garrett is one of my most productive undergraduates that I have supervised.”
- Grant Maresh: Aside from daily duties, Grant has proven to be a helpful craftsman in the creation and design of new gadgets and utilities at the Aquaculture Research Teaching Facility. He has aided multiple graduate students with various tasks within their research, helped induce the spawning of Channel Catfish and Koi, and assisted in rotifer culture used as live feed for larval fish. His nominator wrote, “There is no doubt that he is deserving of higher recognition, but he is very deserving of the RWFM Excellence award.”
- Cody Stricker: Cody works as a Research Technician in the Texas Carnivore Ecology Lab. He is also an active member of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society since 2018, of which Cody, has served as the Secretary and President. Cody has participated in nearly every field experience that the chapter provides from deer captures and CWD checkpoints to bioblitz competitions and community outreach events. Cody was a member of the conclave team and helped the team win first place at the 2022 Texas Chapter Quizbowl Competition. He is also the recipient of the W. B. Davis Endowed Scholarship in 2020 and the Dewitt C. & Bethel Winter Cox Scholarship in 2020 and 2021.
- Shanna Gleason: Shanna has been involved with the Range Club for four years now, serving as secretary and currently president of the club. Shanna has also been competing in the Plant Identification and URME contests at both the state and international levels over the years, and has even gotten the opportunity to help coach a local FFA team learning plant ID. She has worked as a Pathways Intern for the USDA-NRCS for three summers, been an undergraduate TA, and is currently working as a student research assistant at the S.M. Tracy Herbarium
- Daphne Kast: Daphne has been involved with the TAMU Range Club and has served as the Plant Sales Chairman this past year. She competed at the International Society for Range Management, SRM, Contest in Plant ID and URME. In October, and she competed at the Texas Section Society for Range Management Contest in both Plant ID and URME, placing 5th overall in Plant ID. Daphne competed at the 2022 International SRM Contest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was in the top 25 in Plant ID. Over the past two summers, she has interned with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a full-time career with NRCS as a Rangeland Management Specialist.
23 undergraduate scholarships awarded for a total of $34,200. The 13 students who received scholarships were:
- Cassandra Gomez
- Cole Tschirhart
- Diego Garcia
- Emma Shockley
- Hunter Teplicek
- Joseph Hernandez
- Kylie Bagwell
- Nathan Rossi
- Taylor Saucedo
The event was the first of its kind for the department and received countless pieces of positive feedback. The gathering was also featured in the department’s April Newsletter, which can be subscribed to here.