Published since 1946
Charles Wooley Receives 2022 Grinnell Award
The George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation was awarded to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charles Wooley at the Wildlife Management Institute’s 2022 Conservation Administrators Luncheon. This luncheon was hosted at last month’s 87th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Spokane, Washington.
This award, established in honor of the widely acknowledged “Father of American Conservation” – George Bird Grinnell – is natural resource management’s highest individual honor and was presented by the Wildlife Management Institute’s President, Steve Williams. In describing the intent of the award and the character of Mr. Wooley, Williams stated, “The award was established to honor a person who has dedicated their career to professional science, management, and conservation of natural resources and who has done so without fanfare or search for personal recognition.”
Charles Wooley began his professional career in the late 1970’s as a Fish Biologist and Program Analyst for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Ohio, Alaska, and Michigan before landing his first permanent job with the Service at the Panama City Fisheries Office in Florida. There, he conducted ground-breaking work on striped bass and sturgeon movement patterns and helped identify genetic differences between Gulf of Mexico striped bass and the Atlantic striped bass. This work would ultimately lead to him authoring 15 technical papers on the biology and life history of the striped bass, sturgeon, and ecosystem restoration.
“From the beginning of his 46-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Charlie earned a reputation for his tenacious priority of others and penchant for servant leadership; always deferring credit and accolades for accomplishments and never asking others to do what he would not do himself,” noted Williams during the award presentation.
From 1991-1999, Wooley firmly established his reputation as a collaborator and staunch advocate of conservation partnership while serving as Field Supervisor at the Ecological Service Office in East Lansing, Michigan. There, he used his position and personal qualities to establish effective and action-oriented partnerships across diverse and often divisive groups.
Building upon his successes behind the scenes and without fanfare, Wooley went on to the Twin Cities in 1999 as the Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services, then served as Deputy Regional Director before being finally being appointed Regional Director in 2019.
“From WMI’s perspective, even a cursory look at Charlie’s accomplishments reveals his indelible mark on conservation,” said Williams. “He has played pivotal leadership roles in critical national and regional issues such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, the National Fish Habitat Initiative, the Great Lakes Fisheries Program, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, and many others.”
Most recently, Wooley expertise and passion for Great Lake’s conservation was validated by receiving a Presidential appointment in 2018 as the United States Commissioner to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.