The National Bobwhite Technical Committee, representing 25 state wildlife agencies, conservation groups and research institutions, honored two individuals and a group with awards during its annual meeting in Abilene, Texas.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the committee's National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, its first-ever Special Achievement Award went to Dr. Ralph Dimmick, a retired professor from the University of Tennessee with a prominent career in bobwhite research. Dimmick was the primary author of the original 2002 National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative that concentrated primarily on the 16 states of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.
Describing Dimmick as "the father of the NBCI," NBCI Director Don McKenzie said that "with his unique combination of academic credentials, big-picture vision and ability to adapt, he catalyzed a determined group of dedicated quail conservationists to launch a groundbreaking journey that continues to this day."
The committee's annual recognition award to an individual went to Dr. Theron Terhune, the outreach & education coordinator at Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, who was the primary architect of the new web-based NBCI 2.0. The massive revision of the original paper-based plan incorporates web mapping applications, conservation planning tools and a Biologist Rating Index, which categorizes 600 million acres of land for bobwhite habitat management suitability. Terhune has also been a longstanding member of the NBTC research subcommittee member and immediate past chair, leading a new collective effort to standardize and coordinate bobwhite monitoring efforts across the range.
Citing its enduring track record advancing bobwhite management through long-term research, public involvement, collaborative work, and an array of both scientific and lay publications, the committee presented its Group Achievement Award to the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI) at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, with Drs. Fred Bryant, Leonard A. Brennan and Fidel Hernandez leading the quail efforts.
Since 2000, CKWRI has graduated five PhD and 12 MS quail students with another seven students working toward those degrees now, and launched the Quail Associates program, a network of 20 "citizen scientist ranch owners" who donate dollars and data to help understand annual changes in quail productivity across south Texas. CKWRI publications include Texas Bobwhites: A Guide to Their Food and Habitat Management, and Texas Quails: Ecology and Management. The institute also publishes an electronic newsletter and hosts a number of YouTube videos and quail "webisodes" covering various quail management topics.
In other business, the NBTC also installed new Steering Committee leadership for the coming year. The new chairman is Marc Puckett, small game project co-leader for the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries; and chair-elect/secretary/treasurer is Chuck Kowalski, Farm Bill coordinator for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
New NBTC Steering Committee members are Craig Alderman with the Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, representing private quail conservation groups; Catherine Rideout, representing Southeast Partners in Flight in the designated seat for nongame conservation partners; Larry Heggemann with the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture, filling the "at-large" seat; Nathan Stricker with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources representing the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies; and Dr. Leonard Brennan of CKWRI representing academic research institutions.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company. For more information, please visit www.bringbackbobwhites.org