Plenary Sessions

Understanding Our Past

This Plenary Session will feature presentations and discussions from 4 past presidents of the Alaska Chapter – one from every decade from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Dick Bishop, AK TWS Past President (1970s)

Dick Bishop was born in North Dakota in 1937 and grew up in north central Minnesota. He received his BS in wildlife management in 1961 from the University of Minnesota. Following six months active duty in the US Army Reserves he and his wife Mary set off to Alaska as enthusiastically planned.  Dick had worked in Alaska the summer of 1959 for USFWS counting salmon on the Naknek River and for NPS digging trails In McKinley Park.

Dick completed his MS at the University of Alaska in 1967 including his thesis on harbor seal life history. His first job with ADFG was a couple months in the spring of 1962 when he was hired to collect harvest and specimens of walrus at Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. Following graduate school, he was hired as an ADFG temporary and in 1967 in a permanent position to work on moose and other projects. In 1969 he was assigned to the new McGrath area biologist position, then in 1971 as research coordinator in Fairbanks.  In 1975 he resigned from ADFG, taught wildlife management techniques at UA for one semester, then in June with his family moved to Lake Minchumina to experience life as “subsistence” trappers, hunters, fishers. During their stay, he also completed a subsistence use report on the North Addition to Mt. McKinley Park for the Cooperative Parks Studies Unit. 

He returned to ADFG in late 1977 when hired as Game Division Region 3 regional supervisor in Fairbanks from which position he retired in February 1989. Following retirement Dick and Mary seasonally returned to their cultural “roots” at Lake Minchumina and actively worked with the Alaska Outdoor Council in various capacities. His extended family of three sons and their families live in the Fairbanks area, although his six grandkids have been checking out other parts of the world—most are back in Alaska.

John Schoen, AK TWS Past President (1980s)

John Schoen grew up on an island in Washington State and received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.  He has been engaged in Alaska wildlife conservation science for over 40 years, including 20 years with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and 14 years with Audubon Alaska.  His major Alaska research includes ecological studies of brown bears, black-tailed deer, and mountain goats in southeast Alaska’s rainforest.  John served as President of the Alaska Chapter of TWS in 1986, received the NW Section’s Einarsen Award in 2002, and was selected as a TWS Fellow in 2006.  In 2020, the University of Alaska Press published his book Tongass Odyssey: Seeing the Forest Ecosystem through the Politics of Trees-A Biologist’s Memoir.

Ellen Campbell, AK TWS Past President (1990s)

Ellen Goetz Campbell is a graduate of Gettysburg College (B.A. 1970) and West Virginia University (M.S. 1974) where she was the first woman to complete a master’s degree in wildlife management.  She worked initially for private industry, next for the WV DNR, and completed a 30-year career with the USDA Forest Service in 2007.  For her last 17 years with the Forest Service, Ellen served as Wildlife and Ecology Program Leader in the Alaska Regional Office in Juneau. 

Ellen has been active in The Wildlife Society wherever she lived, starting with the student chapter at WVU, co-founder and second president of the VA chapter, secretary-treasurer of the Mississippi chapter, president of the AK chapter, and NW Section Rep to TWS Council.  She was named a TWS Fellow in 2012 and received a TWS Distinguished Service Award in 2014.  Ellen and her husband Dale now live on a farm near La Grande, OR.

Eric Taylor, AK TWS Past President (2000s)

Eric Taylor is a Supervisory Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management Program in Anchorage, Alaska where he works with a team of biologists, biometricians, and administrative professionals to design and implement migratory bird surveys and studies in Alaska.  

From 2005-2007, he was detailed to the Wildlife Society Headquarters and worked with Cornell University to assess interests and levels of engagement of Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey biologists in professional scientific societies.  From 2003-2005, Eric served as the Regional Refuge Biologist in Alaska, and from 1997-2003 he worked as a Fish and Wildlife Biologist in Ecological Services to assess the potential effects of onshore and offshore oil and gas and transportation projects on the Arctic Coastal Plain. 

Eric obtained a B.S. degree in wildlife management at University of Missouri-Columbia, M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology at University of Alaska-Fairbanks studying food habitats and foraging ecology of long-tailed ducks, and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Sciences at Texas A&M University investigating molt and energetics of black brant in the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. 

Eric is married to Frances Mann, a most tolerant and wonderful woman who is an Environmental Analyst with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and together with their 18-year old daughter, Madeleine, live in the Chugach Mountains, near Eagle River.   

Embracing the Present

Dr. Carol Chambers, TWS President and Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Northern Arizona University

Carol Chambers is a professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University and President of The Wildlife Society (2020-21). She grew up in the southeastern US and realized she wanted to work with animals while in college. Carol’s research focuses on habitat relationships of charismatic microfauna including bats, small mammals, and diurnal breeding birds or “Where do creatures live, why, and how can we maintain their habitat?”

While working on her PhD at OSU, she noticed how few women faculty were in forestry and enjoyed meetings held by the one tenure-track woman faculty member in the college. She initiated this at the NAU School of Forestry for women students, then helped start this with The Wildlife Society. She believes in diversity in the wildlife profession. 

Carol’s talk, “The Importance of Diversity“, will be presented as part of our Plenary Session “Embracing the Present”.

Preparing for the Future

Dr. Roger Kaye, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wilderness Coordinator for Alaska

Roger Kaye has worked for the USFWS in Alaska for 41 years as a planner, pilot, Alaska Native liaison and in recent years, as the agency’s Alaska wilderness coordinator. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska where he has taught courses on wilderness, environmental psychology, and the Anthropocene. He is the author of Last Great Wilderness: The Campaign to Establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and numerous journal and popular articles related to wilderness and the Anthropocene. 

Roger’s talk, “The Anthropocene: Our Conservation Paradigm for the Future?“, will be featured during our Plenary Session “Preparing for the Future”. He will talk about the One Health approach to emerging issues related to climate change in Alaska, such as pathogens being released from thawing tundra and biota moving northward or higher in elevation.

Panel Discussion

The topic of our Panel Discussion is, “Challenges and perspectives for Alaska wildlife and habitat conservation, 1971-2021”. Our invited speakers represent a diversity of careers and experiences in the wildlife profession, including in consulting, non-government organizations, academia, state wildlife agencies, and federal agencies. We will also be showing two excerpts from Dave Klein’s 2014 COWCH interview at the beginning of the session.


Dave Klein (1927-2020)

David R. Klein (1927-2020) was a founding member of the Alaska Chapter of The Wildlife Society in 1971 and received the Leopold Award from TWS in 1999. His personal and professional life was detailed in The Making of an Ecologist: A Career in Wildlife Management and Conservation (University of Alaska Press, 2019). Dr. Klein was interviewed by the Alaska Chapter for Conserving Our Wildlife Conservation Heritage (COWCH) in 2014.


Bob Ritchie, Co-founder of ABR, Inc. – Environmental Research & Services

Bob Ritchie (UC Davis, BS 1972, UA Fairbanks, MS 1976) established himself as a raptor biologist and small-business owner in Alaska in the mid-1970s. He co-founded Alaska Biological Research (now ABR, Inc.—Environmental Research & Services) in 1976 and retired in 2018. Bob’s primary responsibilities at ABR included research, project management, company leadership, and establishing and monitoring the company’s triple bottom line (economic success, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility). Today, ABR is employee-owned with 35 employees in its Anchorage and Fairbanks offices; many are University of Alaska graduates representing a diversity of scientific and regional expertise.

Bob has led or helped manage avian surveys and studies throughout Alaska. Many of these studies were conducted for environmental assessments of industrial developments. Some have included long-term population-monitoring objectives conducted with multiple conservation partners. He has collaborated with scientists in federal, state and municipal resource agencies, oil, gas, and mining companies, utility associations, universities, and non-profit organizations.

Bob served on boards of the Alaska Bird Observatory, Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, and the Nature Conservancy, and is still active in conservation and community projects. During his tenure at ABR, he and ABR received a number of awards for environmental stewardship. He and his wife live in Fairbanks but often follow birds south, enjoying grandkids along the way.

Dr. John Schoen, ADF&G and Audubon Alaska (retired); Author of Tongass Odyssey

John Schoen grew up on an island in Washington State and received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.  He has been engaged in Alaska wildlife conservation science for over 40 years, including 20 years with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and 14 years with Audubon Alaska.  His major Alaska research includes ecological studies of brown bears, black-tailed deer, and mountain goats in southeast Alaska’s rainforest.  John served as President of the Alaska Chapter of TWS in 1986, received the NW Section’s Einarsen Award in 2002, and was selected as a TWS Fellow in 2006.  In 2020, the University of Alaska Press published his book Tongass Odyssey: Seeing the Forest Ecosystem through the Politics of Trees-A Biologist’s Memoir.

Doug Larsen, ADF&G Biologist, Pilot, and Director (retired); AK TWS President (2002-2003)

Doug was born and grew up in Juneau. He received a B.S. in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho in 1979 and then enrolled in flying lessons, receiving his private pilot certificate in 1980. He attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and received a M.S. in Wildlife Management in 1983. His graduate research focused on habitat use, movements, and feeding habits of river otters in coastal Southeast Alaska.

In fall 1984, Doug was hired by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and spent 30 years working for the agency across Alaska, including in Juneau, Sitka, and Kotzebue where he met and married his wife. In 1998 Doug was hired as the Assistant Director for ADF&G’s Division of Wildlife Conservation. He later served as the Regional Supervisor for the Division’s Southeast Region and as the Division’s statewide Director. He retired in October 2014 but returns to ADF&G during summers and falls to fly Department surveys.

Doug is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and has been a member of the Wildlife Society for over 35 years. He served as the Alaska Chapter’s president during 2002-2003. He also served 6 years on the board of the Juneau-based Territorial Sportsmen, Inc., including 2 years as president. He currently serves on the board of the Juneau Shooting Sports Foundation.

Mike Spindler, U.S. Co-Chair of the Northwest Boreal Partnership and USFWS Biologist, Pilot, and Refuge Manager (retired)

Mike Spindler lives in Fairbanks and currently volunteers as the U.S. Co-Chair of the Northwest Boreal Partnership (formerly Landscape Conservation Cooperative).  Presently retired, Mike spent most of his career working at seven of Alaska’s 16 National Wildlife Refuges. Mike earned his his BS from Louisiana State University and his MS in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1977.

Working outside the conventional western science discipline, a declining population of white-fronted geese in western interior Alaska spurred Mike to lead a project gathering oral histories from Koyukon elders in the 1990s. He ensured indigenous knowledge and good community relations were employed to help bring about a population recovery.  Another result was a public radio series, Raven’s Story, that aired in the late 1990s and is archived in Project Jukebox at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

A TWS-Certified Wildlife biologist, Mike serves on the Alaska Chapter’s Conservation Action Committee, helping the Society draft professional comments to environmental impact statements and other government actions.  Mike is passionate about conservation of the subarctic and the boreal forest, having worked and lived in this ecosystem for nearly his entire career.  

Dr. Wini Kessler, U.S. Forest Service (retired) and TWS President (2012-2013)

Wini Kessler’s 45-year wildlife career comprised academic, government, and NGO positions in the U.S. and Canada.  Her Alaska experience began with forest bird research in the 1970s and in the 1980s she became the first Regional Wildlife Ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Alaska Region. Her final decade (2000-2010) with the Forest Service was served as the Alaska Region’s Director for Wildlife, Fisheries, and Subsistence Management.  Wini was the founding chair of natural resources at the University of Northern British Columbia and in 1997 she received the British Columbia Academic of the Year Award.

The Wildlife Society has been hugely important throughout Wini’s career.  She served two terms as the Northwest Section Representative and was the 2012-13 TWS President.  Receiving the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award in 2017 was the highlight of her career.  Since retiring in 2010, Wini resides in British Columbia and remains active in the conservation arena.