USFWS History Committee Charter
Purpose: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Heritage Committee was established by 029 FW 5. To clarify the scope and purpose of this Committee, this Committee is renamed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service History Committee. The activities of the History Committee as described in the Service Manual include the following:
Perpetuate and strengthen the Service’s unique conservation culture as a national leader in wildlife and fisheries protection and management;
Develop programs to document and preserve important historical materials and information associated with fish and wildlife and organizational programs;
Encourage the study and use of historic resources to enhance understanding and appreciation of our leading role in American fish and wildlife conservation;
Assist with the operations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Museum and Archives (USFWSMA) at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) and the National Fish and Aquatic Conservation Archives at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and their museum collections, assist DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge with the Steamboat Bertrand Collection, assist The National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository housed at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, assist with museum collections housed at other Service field stations;
Understand historical socio-economic impacts on conservation policy as a context for future policy development; and
Educate our employees, partners, and the American public about the history of conserving natural resources.
Background: The history of the Service can be traced back to 1871, when Congress established the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, making it one of the world’s oldest conservation and natural resource management agencies. Earliest historic preservation efforts within the Fisheries program began at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives (1896). With the establishment of NCTC in 1997, the Service has a home for its permanent archives, maintained by the Service’s Historian and staff. The Service’s Director established the History Committee in 1998 to preserve, honor, and interpret this long legacy. Members of the History Committee represent current and retired employees from all Regions and Headquarters. Preserving history strengthens the Service’s identity and distinct conservation legacy while enhancing opportunities to learn from the past. Learning from and applying the lessons of the past to today’s conservation challenges honors our history and the memory of those who showed the way.
Goals: The goals of the History Committee are to:
- Actively promote and provide advice and guidance to the Service Directorate concerning the significance of Service historical events, objects, documents, and its people related to the Service's history and natural resource management and conservation values.
- Produce a strategic plan every 5 years with objectives and strategies to accomplish them. Prepare an annual work plan and accomplishment report on a fiscal/calendar year basis by the NCTC staff with assistance by the History Committee members.
- The History Committee will have various subcommittees (Oral History, Artifacts, and others that may be formed for special events, e.g., 150th Anniversary) to provide exhibits, symposia, publications, station anniversary support, and other materials that may be required.
- Support biannual historical symposia to expand our knowledge of Service history and by publishing annual issues of the Conservation History journal and assist other Divisions in publications for special events and celebrations.
- Coordinate the identification, collection, and preservation of significant materials and information on the Service's past, including an active oral history program. Develop a strategy to identify issues and events that should be documented and preserved for the future. Develop and implement programs to document and preserve important historical materials and information associated with fish, wildlife, and other organizational programs.
- Work with all Service offices, the Association of Retired Fish and Wildlife Service Employees (FWS Retirees Association), Friends groups, other relevant organizations, and active or retired personnel to promote interest in the History Committee and to understand and support its purpose.
- Develop educational programs and inreach efforts that cultivate an appreciation for the Service's leading role in American fish and wildlife conservation and promote the continuation of its unique conservation culture.
- Support the Service's retiree network by coordinating face-to-face History Committee meetings with their biannual retiree reunions.
- Assist NCTC in developing history training curricula and materials for use in the Service’s on-line, distance learning classes, and classroom courses.
- Assist Service offices in interpreting and developing outreach products that incorporate themes involving the agency's rich history in managing and conserving America's natural resources.
- Promote the care of the many Service museum collections and assist in their proper display and storage at field stations or regional offices and provide technical expertise to preserve materials and information on the Service's rich past.
The History Committee is composed of members who are current Service employees and retirees. The Service’s Director appoints a member of the Directorate or the Deputies group to serve as the Chairperson of the History Committee. The Regional Director for each Service Region appoints a member to represent their respective Region.
The FWS Retirees Association Board of Directors, in coordination with the History Committee, appoints Service retirees as their representatives on the Committee. Other members of the History Committee include the Service’s Historian, the Service’s Historic Preservation Officer, the Hatchery Director of the D.C. Booth National Historic Fish Hatchery, the Director of the National Conservation Training Center, and Service curators. Headquarters’ Assistant Directors may appoint members to represent their Programs.
The History Committee will meet in person at least once a year and at each retiree reunion. NCTC staff will facilitate monthly virtual meetings to update members on the progress of the Committee’s various projects. The Committee will work closely with the Service leadership, the FWS Retirees Association, the USFWSMA, and various History subcommittees to ensure that all Service history needs are being met.
Administrative and Program Support: NCTC provides administrative and program support for the Committee, as approved by the NCTC Director. Support may include funding History Committee’s travel expenses when regional or station funding is not available; reimbursing volunteers’ expenses associated with Committee activities based on prior approval; making arrangements for meetings, developing agendas, recording and distributing minutes of meetings; providing technical preservation assistance; preparing position papers and recommendations for consideration by Service leadership; and providing other routine administrative support. The Committee Chairperson may request the assistance of other personnel, with the expertise as necessary, to address technical issues dealing with preserving documents and objects, developing audio-visual products, and other matters to further the work of the Committee.
Fallen Comrades Memorial
The Service’s Fallen Comrades Memorial includes the names of Service employees and volunteers who have died in the line of duty. Service Policy 029 FW 5 presents the selection criteria and process for inclusion on the Memorial. The History Committee is responsible for reviewing nominations and making recommendations of those individuals who deserve inclusion in this Memorial. The Service’s Director has final approval authority of all new names for inclusion onto the Memorial.
The History Committee coordinates the Annual USFWS History Award. The awardee may be an individual, an institution, or a group of individuals. This award recognizes significant contributions made to the preservation of the history and history of the Service. The History Committee develops award criteria and manages a selection process. Awardees may be current Service employees, Service retirees, or other individuals who have supported Service history efforts. This non-monetary award is in the form of a framed plaque that NCTC provides and presents at FWS Retirees Association gatherings or other appropriate Service events.