Mississippi State University’s waterfowl and wetlands science program was recently honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a program of the service’s Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, gave the Blue-winged Teal Award to MSU’s program because of its significant contributions to waterfowl, other wetland-associated migratory bird populations, and wetlands habitats.
Richard M. Kaminski, professor in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center and College of Forest Resources, has dedicated his career to conserving and understanding wetland habitats and the birds that rely on their natural resources. He was named holder of the James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation in 2008. As chair, he leads MSU’s award-winning waterfowl and wetlands science and conservation program.
Kaminski and his colleagues are recognized as leaders in waterfowl and wetlands science education. Their studies have been instrumental in strengthening the science and importance of winter habitat conditions on waterfowl populations.
More than 40 MSU graduates work directly or indirectly to implement the North American Waterfowl Management Plan locally, nationally and internationally. The MSU group has worked to ensure that the conservation priorities and strategies in the plan reflect contemporary science.
Thomas E. Moorman, director of science and public policy for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. complimented the 12 program graduates currently employed by the non-profit conservation organization.
"The depth and breadth of Rick’s former students is both remarkable and a testament to the MSU program," Moorman said. "His vision to ensure the future of waterfowl is possible through development of a cadre of professionals that provide exceptional service to our field."
MSU’s program focuses on research and outreach as well as academics, carrying out the university’s land-grant mission.
"Rick and the MSU program have truly excelled at both the research and outreach side of their mission," said John M. Eadie, chair of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at the University of California-Davis. "Very little of their work sits dusty in file cabinets or buried in theses on library shelves."
Alumnus Mike Brasher nominated the waterfowl group for the award. Kaminski accepted the award on behalf of the program at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference March 27 in Arlington, Va.