Newsroom Midwest Region

Inspiring the next generation of biologists through sound science

February 26, 2018

Pat Heglund surveying birds by kayak. Photo by USFWS.
Pat Heglund surveying birds by kayak. Photo by USFWS.

We’ve heard for decades that baseline data are essential for any long-term biological program to be successful. But, what’s next? Where do we go from there? How do we develop that idea into a structured network of interwoven actions? How do we do smart science? That’s where Pat Heglund comes in.

Heglund is the chief of natural resources and conservation planning and regional biologist for the Midwest Region of the National Wildlife Refuge System. In this capacity, she has been helping us connect those threads and think smart about the science we do for more than a decade. Heglund's legacy with conservation work goes much deeper though, spanning 38 years. From Alaska’s western Aleutians to working with refuges in Ohio and Indiana, Heglund has a sharp view of both our challenges and our opportunities.

Recently, Heglund's colleagues from the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society recognized her contributions, both within and outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by presenting her with the 2017 Professional Award of Merit. Heglund was honored in late January during the plenary session of the 78th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and we wanted to highlight her efforts. Among her many accolades, the Society highlighted her demonstrated leadership for promoting innovation in wildlife science through highly-cited books and research publications. They noted that Heglund's efforts have unified our regional and national biological monitoring efforts, initiated routine information sharing between refuges and provided training and advancement opportunities to a generation of wildlife biologists. Her vision and ability to put goals into action have greatly benefited the National Wildlife Refuge System and the agency as a whole.

“Dr. Heglund's accomplishments have been impressive and she is highly respected by her peers, her staff members and others. She has served a pivotal leadership role in a number of efforts to collect information critical to the effective conservation and management of wildlife and their habitats on national wildlife refuges,” said Immediate Past-president of The Wildlife Society North Central Section Katy Reeder.

The Professional Award of Merit is given by the North Central Section to Society members who exemplify outstanding professional accomplishments in wildlife conservation. The award is restricted to living conservationists who are or have recently been active within the geographic boundaries of the North Central Section and only in those years in which a truly deserving candidate is available. Criteria for judging the professional accomplishments of nominees include the member’s contribution to knowledge, single outstanding acts and/or leadership over a period of several years in any area of wildlife work. The Wildlife Society is a non-profit professional collective of people involved in wildlife research, conservation and management. They aim to inspire, empower and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation.

Strong leaders like Heglund are essential to setting the course for the direction and momenum of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are proud to have her and so many other creative biologists on the team.