Alexander Galt, a fall 2010 graduate of Fort Hays State University, has had a passion for the outdoors and nature since he was a young boy in Carrington, N.D. For him, pursuing a career in wildlife biology was an obvious choice. Recently, Galt's efforts paid off when he received the Janice Lee Fenske Memorial Award for Outstanding Students during the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Minneapolis, Minn.
While many students applied for the award, only 25 were selected as finalists and invited to attend the awards ceremony during the conference in December 2010, shortly before Galt graduated. The conference was a gathering of fish and wildlife professionals from the United States and Canada. Two finalists were presented with the $500 Fenske Memorial Award, one majoring in fisheries management and one majoring in wildlife management. Galt received the award in the wildlife management category.
"I was introduced to the outdoors and nature at a young age through hunting and fishing with my family in central North Dakota," said Galt. "I literally took advantage of every opportunity I could to get outdoors."
Galt said his high school biology teacher at Carrington High School really helped him develop his passion for science, and that passion carried on into college.
"My passion for wildlife biology increased exponentially throughout my undergraduate career as I learned more about conservation through formal courses as well as on-the-job training with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," he said.
According to its website, the Fenske Award was created to recognize undergraduate and graduate students for their achievements in the fields of fisheries and wildlife management. Students were selected based on characteristics such as enthusiasm to protect fisheries and wildlife resources through management activities, selflessness, motivation to teach others, interest in professional involvement, integrity, positive attitude and compassion.
Galt graduated from North Dakota State University in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in zoology and received his Master of Science in biology from FHSU in December 2010. He is currently a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Iowa.
"I coordinate the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in 11 southeast Iowa counties and three western Illinois counties," said Galt. "I work with private landowners, conservation agencies and non-governmental organizations to restore, enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitat on private lands."
Although working on private lands has obstacles not typically encountered when managing public lands or conducting research, Galt said he finds them to be both challenging and rewarding.
And although Galt has graduated, he said he still wants to stay active in academia.
"One of my long-term career goals is to remain active in academia by facilitating partnerships between my agency and various universities," he said. "I also consider activity with professional societies to be a valuable way to continue learning and promote science-based decision making in conservation."
Galt said he felt fortunate to represent FHSU at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.
"My advisor, Dr. Elmer J. Finck, and faculty and graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences provided an outstanding learning and research environment which has been invaluable in my development as a wildlife professional," he said.
"FHSU was an obvious choice for graduate school because of its reputation for producing high-quality field biologists."
For more information on the award, go to http://www.fisheries.org/units/miafs/jfenske_award.html/.