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Dr. Bob Gates (left) and Dr. Denny Albert, coastal wetland ecologist, discuss coastal wetland dynamics and plant ecology at a marsh on northern Lake Michigan in Michigan's northern Lower Penisula.  Photo by Greg Soulliere/USFWS

Dr. Bob Gates (left) and Dr. Denny Albert, coastal wetland ecologist, discuss coastal wetland dynamics and plant ecology at a marsh on northern Lake Michigan in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. Photo by Greg Soulliere/USFWS.

OSU Professor Joined East Lansing Field Office For
Six Weeks With The Summer Faculty Fellowship Program

With years serving as a great mentor to Ohio State University students, it should come as no surprise that Dr. Bob Gates applied for and recently spent six weeks participating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Summer Faculty Fellowship Program. The East Lansing Field Office hosted Dr. Gates as he worked with regional Joint Venture science staff and other wetland conservation partners from Michigan and Ohio.
 
The Service is committed to achieving an inclusive workforce by ensuring employees represent the rich cultural heritage of America and the Faculty Fellowship Program provides a stipend and opportunity for professors to work at Service facilities. They work to complete campus conservation career awareness plans, which are expected to include assisting the Service with student recruitment and mentoring, seeking college course adjustments to reflect emerging trends in conservation and biological planning, and assisting the Service with research. The Ohio State University was a prime candidate school, with its large enrollment of students from a variety of backgrounds and the school’s emphasis in natural resources and wildlife management.
 

Dr. Bob Gates evaluating proposed and completed wetland restoration and enhancement projects in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula.  Photo by Greg Soulliere/USFWS
Dr. Bob Gates evaluating proposed and completed wetland restoration and enhancement projects in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula. Photo by Greg Soulliere/USFWS.

In addition to his “normal job” as Professor of Wildlife Ecology at the Ohio State University, Dr. Gates is a founding member of the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Technical Committee. The Joint Venture has been a leader in coordinated bird conservation planning for over 10 years in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region, plus the partnership has conducted collaborative bird habitat conservation for nearly 20 years. Dr. Gates and other bird conservation scientists on the technical team help Joint Venture partners practice strategic bird conservation using the best available science. This group promoted Strategic Habitat Conservation long before Strategic Habitat Conservation was the common buzzword it is today.
 
While in East Lansing, he learned about Service programs and mission responsibilities, and he informed Service staff about his own research findings and those of his graduate students. Dr. Gates also conducted a summer project related to wetland conservation planning. He completed numerous field trips to project sites, personal project evaluations, and group biological discussions, resulting in enough information to develop a draft decision-support tool for scoring future proposed wetland restoration and management projects. He focused on estimating return on conservation investment and how well completed wetland projects matched objectives stated in original project proposals. Outcome measures for wetland projects were related to bird population and habitat objectives developed in the 2007 Joint Ventures Implementation Plan, assuring the decision tool will be helpful to the Joint Venture.
 
Dr. Gates is currently producing a final report titled, “Connecting the Biological Foundation of Strategic Habitat Conservation Planning with Delivery and Implementation: a Decision Support and Assessment Tool.” During his stay at the East Lansing Field Office, he gained an understanding of agency challenges in conserving fish and wildlife as well as an understanding of the many Service programs administered from one facility (Ecological Services, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, the Joint Venture, and the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative).
 
About half way through the Fellowship Program, Dr. Gates commented, “I never knew the Fish and Wildlife Service was involved in so many programs and projects, and that staff at field offices had so much responsibility.” No doubt Dr. Gates will relay these experiences and new knowledge in his classrooms and to student organizations at OSU, helping to prepare the next generation of natural resource conservation experts.
 
By Greg Soulliere

Last updated: September 5, 2014