WMI Presents Dr. Kenneth Elowe with Grinnell Award

WMI Presents Dr. Kenneth Elowe with Grinnell Award

The George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation was recently awarded to Dr. Kenneth Elowe during the annual Conservation Administrators Luncheon at the 89thth North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Kenneth Elowe receiving the Grinnell Award from Tony Wasley

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, Tony Wasley. 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.

In presenting the award, Wasley noted, “Much like Grinnell, this year’s recipient is a long-practiced observer of nature, student of nature, and one who practices much of what Lucy Audubon was credited with teaching Grinnell; self-denial. He has often referenced his vision of conservation using terms and phrases like ‘care’, ‘consideration of one another,’ ‘community benefits,’ and ‘making things better for the common good.’”

Elowe began his journey as an exemplary conservationist while an undergraduate at Bowdoin College studying biology, chemistry, and physics. His first inspirational experience as a young professional came with an opportunity to do bird work for the Canadian Wildlife Service in the Bay of Fundy where he helped examine the role of various contaminants on bird colonies in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. As stated by Wasley, “That experience cemented his desire to pursue a career in wildlife.”

Elowe went on to earn both a Master’s Degree and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, primarily focused on black bear research, before landing a position with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as a nongame mammals coordinator. Following a year in that position, he returned to his native New England where he began a 30-year career with his home state wildlife agency, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries Wildlife (DIFW), eventually rising to the position of Director where he served until 2010. During this period, Elowe’s career took an atypical turn toward the Middle East where he served as an expert consultant for the United Nations in assessing and addressing Gulf War related conservation impacts. During his free time on weekends and annual leave, he traveled and met with local leaders, testified before the UN Security Council in Geneva and contributed to assessing and collaboratively solving related conservation impacts in the Middle East.

Not one to quit early, Elowe ended his career at the DIFW on a Friday and by the following Monday, had landed a new job as the Assistant Regional Director of Science Applications for the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) where he coordinated landscape-scale habitat conservation efforts in the Northeast until 2019. After nearly 40 years of professional service, Elowe wasn’t quite finished with his conservation craft and took a position in 2021 supporting the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ and USFWS’s pursuit for durable structures for landscape conservation.

“When presented with praise or accolades, he typically points to his partner and conservation coconspirator, reflects on the impacts a life in the outdoors has had on shaping the interests and careers of the four boys they share, or otherwise deflects,” reflected Wasley. “Ken’s personal and professional vision, conservation craftsmanship, and dedication underscores not only the prestige and values of the Grinnell award itself, but also the principles that cement the bedrock of our profession.”

Photo Credit
Jodi Stemler
April 16, 2024