The Chapter was notified early August that we were the recipients of the 2021 Outstanding AFS Small Chapter Award. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes outstanding professionalism, active resource protection, and enhancement programs, as well as a strong commitment to the mission of the Society.
The award will be officially announced during the business meeting at the 2021 AFS Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
This prestigious award is a tribute to many people’s hard work and dedication, particularly the 2020 ExCom and Committee chairs. The rest of the country is learning what many of us have known for some time- we have a truly inspiring and talented group of fisheries professionals committed to conserving, managing, and improving our aquatic resources for today and the future.
As part of the application process, we had to answer the question – What makes your chapter unique and why is it outstanding? Our answer…
The Georgia Chapter possesses a unique sense of cohesiveness and can-do spirit among its professional, faculty, and student members, which helped us not only “get through” an unprecedentedly difficult year but rise to the challenges by adopting new modes of communication, education, and networking. As a result, our membership rolls, meeting attendance, outreach footprint, fundraising, and sense of camaraderie hardly missed a beat in 2020. In fact, we were able to reach an even larger audience, including citizens and potential fisheries recruits whom we might not have reached under traditional circumstances. Although every unit of AFS faced similar Covid-related issues, we are particularly proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2020. These accomplishments are detailed in the sections below and the attachments provided. In brief, they include (1) ramping up our information-dissemination campaigns through adding active Twitter and Instagram accounts (we already had Facebook) and periodic blog posts on topics like aquatic nuisance species and aquatic connectivity, (2) working with the GA DNR to develop and fund educational media (digital flyers, posters, and teaching workbooks) on various fishy topics, (3) developing a new set of web-based resources to connect Georgia high-school and college students to fish-related programs and faculty at colleges throughout the state, and to better understand what skills are needed for different careers in the fisheries field, and (4) for our student subunit at UGA, broadening the monthly seminar series to a much more geographically widespread field of guest speakers, thanks to using a Zoom virtual meeting format. Although we hope 2021 sees the restoration of more in-person interaction, we learned a number of useful lessons and skills in 2020 that we think maintained our effectiveness as a chapter and will enhance our relevance and reach moving forward.
The rest of the country is learning what many have known for some time- we have a truly inspiring and talented group of fisheries professionals committed to conserving, managing, and improving our aquatic resources for today and the future.