Dr. Jerry Choate, Fort Hays State University professor of biological sciences and director of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, recently accepted the Grinnell Award from the American Society of Mammalogists.
Choate has been a museum curator and director more than 30 years and has educated mammalogists for 40 years. He has been author and coauthor for nearly 200 publications and was previously awarded the C. Hart Merriam Award by the ASM.
It was not until he attended the national annual ASM meeting in June that he found out about the award.
"I was having a glass of wine at the ceremony after the banquet and only halfway paying attention as they began to give out awards," said Choate. "Suddenly their words started to sound familiar as they began talking about me and when they announced my name I was speechless. I decided to have a couple more glasses of wine to celebrate."
The Grinnell Award honors ASM's 10th president, Joseph Grinnell. It is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to education in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years.
"This award goes beyond education of students, it's also about educating the general public," said Dr. Jeff Briggs, dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences. "Dr. Choate's ability to weave instruction, scholarship and service seamlessly into his work establish him as an exemplar of the university professor."
The award consists of a plaque resembling an open book. On the left page is the ASM's emblem and on the right is a message inscribed about Choate. It reads:
"The Joseph Grinnell award for excellence and education in mammalogy is presented to Dr. Jerry R. Choate in recognition of his roles as a teacher, mentor and museum director at Fort Hays State University in which he has shared his knowledge of and enthusiasm for the study of mammalogy for over 35 years. He has been an inspiration to thousands of learners of all ages."
"It's a wonderful honor that I never expected," said Choate. "Out of all the awards the ASM offers, this is the one I wanted the most."