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Conservation Management Institute realigns to maximize funding and research opportunities

August 16, 2017

Nettingfish
The Conservation Management Institute conducts a range of collaborative projects, such as this survey with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation’s Fluvial Fishes Lab to assess fish, mussel, and crayfish distributions surrounding a hydroelectric dam in the upper New River. 

The Conservation Management Institute, a research center in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, is being aligned with the college’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation to maximize funding and research opportunities.

“The Conservation Management Institute has had phenomenal success as a college-level research center for many years,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment. “As we look forward to greater impacts by leveraging mutual interests with our academic program in fish and wildlife conservation, I am certain that the outcome will be positive from all perspectives.”

Since 1999, the Conservation Management Institute has been awarded more than $40 million in research grants from numerous sources to fund projects that solve conservation management issues. Much of the institute’s work has been allied with the fish and wildlife conservation program, one of the leading academic research units at Virginia Tech.

“We are strategically aligning resources to be much more competitive for external funding and to raise the impact value of our work,” Winistorfer said.

The Conservation Management Institute provides multidisciplinary expertise in field ecology, geospatial information technology, resource assessment, and logistical support. The institute is supported by contracts and grants from sponsors, which include fish and wildlife agencies, federal refuges and parks, private conservation areas, and military installations throughout Virginia, across North America, and around the world.

“The Conservation Management Institute has enjoyed many successful collaborations with faculty and students in the college,” said Scott Klopfer, institute director. “The realignment will allow us to build upon those relationships and provide even more opportunities that will benefit our students and partners.”

“We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with the Conservation Management Institute,” said Joel Snodgrass, head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. “Our alignment with the institute will allow our students and faculty to realize even greater synergies between the department and the institute, and continue to provide our partners with the best scientifically based solutions to the natural resource challenges we face. Providing our students with experiences outside of the classroom contributes greatly to the development of soft skills that are valued by future employers.”

College, institute, and department stakeholders cite these benefits of realignment:

  • Enhanced collaboration across disciplines, resulting in more comprehensive solutions to complex issues;
  • Expanded opportunities for undergraduate students to engage with faculty members in research, enriching their overall academic experience and increasing their professional competitiveness; and
  • Greater access to personnel and resources (i.e., space, instrumentation, and vehicles) to facilitate rapid-response and shorter term projects.

The alignment will have little noticeable change on current activities and will not affect the institute’s ability to operate as it has in the past.

The Conservation Management Institute began as the Multi-state Fish and Wildlife Database project in the late 1980s to assist state fish and wildlife agencies in developing wildlife information databases for desktop computers. The name was changed to the Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange in the 1990s, when services expanded beyond databases to include GIS and remote sensing, website development, and other new information-gathering technologies.

The range of projects continued to expand in the 1990s to include designing and delivering professional development courses, human dimensions research, and work with international partners. The Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange became the Conservation Management Institute in 1999.

For more information, contact Scott Klopfer at sklopfer@vt.edu or 540-231-8825.

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