Washington — The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) elected Dr. Jonathan W. Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, as its new president on September 13, 2011 during AFWA’s 101st Annual Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. During his one-year tenure, Gassett plans to pay particular attention to improving relations between state and federal partners.

“These are trying and uncertain economic times for both federal and state agencies,” said Gassett. “But now more than ever we need to resolve our issues and tensions, and we need to do this with accountability, civility and respect through professional behavior between partners.”

In accepting AFWA’s presidency, Gassett urged state fish and wildlife agencies and federal natural resource agencies to stop focusing on credit or blame, but to get back to what all of the state and federal partners do well—sound, conservation-oriented decision-making.

“It’s about all of us remembering why we do what we do,” said Gassett. “Open dialog and trust between state and federal agencies will remain the key to keeping our relationship strong and effective, even when we agree to disagree.”

Gassett currently serves in a leadership capacity on a number of AFWA committees including Angler and Boating Participation, Legislative and Federal Budget and Leadership and Professional Development. He also is the Chairman of AFWA’s White Nose Syndrome Task Force and an alumnus of the National Conservation Leadership Institute.

A certified wildlife biologist, Gassett received his undergraduate degree in biology from Kennesaw State University and his master’s degree and doctorate in forest resources from the University of Georgia. Gassett will serve as president through September 2012.

Also at AFWA’s Annual Meeting, Jeff Vonk, Director of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, was elected Vice President; Dan Forster, Director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division was named Chair of AFWA’s Executive Committee; Larry Voyles, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, was named Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee; and John Frampton, Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, was re-elected to the Executive Committee.

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