The Kansas Ornithological Society has awarded the Avian Conservationist of the Year Award to Dr. Elmer Finck, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Fort Hays State University, for his significant contributions to the field of avian study.
Finck has conducted extensive research in ornithology and wildlife biology on topics as diverse as the behavioral ecology of bison, the response of small mammals and birds to disturbances such as fire and grazing and the plant-soil interactions in the strip mines of western North Dakota.
In his 24 years of teaching, he has taught courses on ornithology, geospatial analysis, conservation biology and general ecology in Emporia State University, the University of Nebraska, Kansas State University and the University of North Dakota in addition to FHSU.
He has hosted multiple state and regional Ornithological Society meetings, bringing together professionals and students to exchange and present ideas. He was editor of University of North Dakota's The Prairie Naturalist, is past president of the Kansas chapter of the Wildlife Society, past president of the Central States Association of Mammalogists, and past president and former newsletter editor of the KOS. He has also contributed annually to Christmas Bird Counts, the North American Breeding Bird Surveys and the state Breeding Birds Atlas.
Finck graduated in 1972 with an associate degree in math from the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., before earning his bachelor's in fish and wildlife management from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D in 1974. He earned his master's in biology with a focus on plant ecology in 1979 and then, in 1983, obtained his Ph.D. in biology with a focus on behavioral ecology from Kansas State University. His dissertation was titled: Male behavior, territory quality and female choice in the dickcissel.