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SEAFWA 2018 Diversity Award.jpg – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Buggs presented the 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Award to representatives of the Alabama DCNR. (left to right: David Buggs, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Texas Parks and Wildlife; William Freeman, Conversation Enforcement Officer, Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries Division; Mrs. LaDonna James, (Widow of Alabama Conversation Enforcement Officer, Steve James) and Chuck Sykes Director, Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries Division)
MOBILE, Ala. – Oct. 25, 2018 – The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies named the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) as the 2018 SEAFWA Diversity and Inclusion Award winner at their annual meeting in Mobile this week. The ADCNR’s Collegiate Mentoring Program assists minority students who desire to work with fish and wildlife agencies in gaining meaningful hands on experience with different outdoor activities.
“Students majoring in various natural sciences and conservation fields are being introduced to hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, firearm safety and habitat management and participating in discussions on current issues facing conservation with practicing professionals,” SEAFWA President and ADCNR Director Chuck Sykes said. “We recognize the challenges that many minority students face in trying to find mentors and opportunities to engage in such experiences, and we want to make it easier for those interested in the conservation profession to do so.”
The program was initiated in 2016 at Tuskegee University. Since its inception, more than 80 students have participated in the program. Since 2017, the ADCNR Fisheries Division has reached more than 35,000 participants, more than 26,000 of whom are minorities, through career information sessions and community fishing events.
Participants are encouraged to engage with the SEAFWA Minorities in Natural Resources Committee (MINRC) as well. In support of the Collegiate Mentoring Program, ADCNR has established special opportunity hunt areas, an adult mentored hunt program and has helped pass legislation to reduce out of state license fees for college students.
“ADCNR, along with its nongovernmental organization partners, has been instrumental in providing educational equipment, training, opportunities to people who otherwise would not have much exposure to the outdoors,” said MINRC Chair David Buggs. “We commend their efforts and look forward to the growth of the program.”
Plans are in effect to implement additional Collegiate Mentoring Programs at Auburn University, Troy State University and Alabama A&M University.
The winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Award is chosen by a small group of volunteers with the SEAFWA MINRC and judged on their commitment to diversity and inclusion, the effectiveness of their programs, and any partnership developed and used to support their diversity and inclusion goals.
The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.