Dr. Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited’s director of conservation programs for the Great Plains Region, has received one of the top honors bestowed upon a conservation leader: the North American Waterfowl Management Plan’s International Canvasback Award. The award is presented to an exceptional individual, corporation or organization that has made substantial contributions over a long period of time to the implementation and continuation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) throughout North America.
“All I can say is to be honored among your peers is absolutely the highest honor,” Ringelman said. “I’ve had the great pleasure to work with you all in the flyway system and habitat conservation and you all are definitely the best. But, the job’s not done yet. We still have a lot of work to do and challenges ahead but I’m really confident that this group will get it done.”
No fewer than five people signed Ringelman’s nomination form, including Paul Schmidt, DU’s chief conservation officer; Dr. Michael Anderson, DU’s senior conservation advisor in Canada; and wildlife division chiefs from three different states. The award was presented during DU’s Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards at the 78th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Arlington, Va.
Ringelman grew up in California and graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 1975. Later that year he made a major geographic leap to the northern plains to begin a master’s program at South Dakota State University in Brookings. While at SDSU, Ringelman studied duck brood behavior and visibility in prairie potholes and made significant contributions to population estimation techniques. Following that, he headed even further east, to Orono, Maine, where he received his Ph.D. and undertook a challenging study of black duck breeding ecology. There he became the first scientist to quantify habitat use by this species during the breeding season using radio telemetry.
“For more than 30 years, Jim has been deeply involved in the research and conservation of North American waterfowl, which prepared him for the remarkable leadership role of guiding the 2012 Revision of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan,” Schmidt said. “He’s a conservationist in the truest sense of the word and I can’t think of a better person to receive such a prestigious award.”
Ringelman was recruited by Ducks Unlimited in 1996 and returned to the northern plains to work with a distinguished team of biologists developing a diverse program at the Great Plains Regional Office that included land protection and easement programs, GIS and research capabilities and enhanced programs in Colorado, Nebraska and Minnesota. Today, Ringelman manages all facets of DU’s conservation programs in the heart of the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region.
Ringelman has been involved with the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture (PPJV) for more than 15 years and has taken a leading role on their technical committee, which plans and assesses joint venture conservation actions. In 2004 and 2005, Ringelman led the team and edited the joint venture’s revised Implementation Plan based on a review of the first 15 years of operations. The PPJV has been a highly successful NAWMP breeding area joint venture because of a strong partnership of many diverse agencies and science teams, of which Ringelman has been a strong technical leader. He has been extremely successful in bringing diverse interests together and helping partners achieve consensus about future directions.
“Jim was a conceptual leader throughout the Joint Task Group who worked on NAWMP goals and their role in harvest management,” Anderson said in his nomination letter. “In particular, Jim was a solid leader in crafting parts of the report that dealt with approaches to maintain and increase the carrying capacity on breeding areas.”
Logo courtesy Ducks Unlimited