2021 Officer Elections

Voting is now open for the 2021 elections. This year we have one candidate for each of the following positions: WDAFS Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Student Representative.  Candidate biographies are printed below.  Voting is open until April 30.

To vote, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/2021-WD-election


Vice President

Eric Fetherman

As the son of parents that both graduated with degrees in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, I grew up hunting, fishing, and exploring national parks on family vacations. Some of my favorite memories are of trout fishing in Clear Creek, ice fishing in Granby, and after-dinner trips to local city ponds to catch bass, crappie, bluegill, and sunfish with my father.

I started my career in natural resources at 13, working as a park naturalist aid at a local city park, where I worked through high school. I began working toward a degree in wildlife biology at CSU in 2002. However, the summer after my freshman year, I was hired by the USFWS to help raise razorback suckers at the Ouray National Fish Hatchery in Utah, and I became hooked on a career in fisheries. I picked up fishery biology as a second major, and was hired as a technician by then Colorado Division of Wildlife, helping rear and develop whirling disease-resistant rainbow trout. I graduated with a B.S. in wildlife biology with fishery biology as a second major in 2006. My work with CDOW led to graduate work at CSU where I earned my M.S. in 2009 and Ph.D. in 2013, working on development and reestablishment of WD-resistant rainbow trout populations in Colorado. I was hired as an aquatic researcher by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2011. My research focuses on salmonid diseases, brood stock development and hatchery production, and sport fish population dynamics. I also have the privilege of serving on three Ph.D. committees as a CSU affiliate faculty member, and enjoy the opportunity to mentor the next generation of fisheries professionals. I was honored to be nominated for and receive the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter Outstanding Mentor Award in February 2021 for my work with these students. I have worked on some great projects and with some incredible colleagues during my career, which has led to the authorship or co-authorship of eleven AFS publications in JAAH, NAJFM, TAFS, and NAJA. I have also served as a reviewer for JAAH, NAJFM, and TAFS, and am currently a member of the Best Paper Award Committee (NAJA) for the Society.

The American Fisheries Society has played a large role in my career and success as a fisheries professional. I have been a member of the CO/WY Chapter, Western Division, and Society since 2006, the Fish Health Section since 2011, the Fish Culture Section since 2016, and the Fisheries Management Section since 2017. As a graduate student, I was a member of the Western Division AFS Student Representative Committee which helped establish the student rep as a voting member of the WD Executive Committee. As a member of the CO/WY Chapter, I served as co-editor of the Chapter newsletter and member of the Environmental Policy Committee before being elected to the Executive Committee and serving as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice President, President, and Past-President of the Chapter. The CO/WY Chapter received the 2019 Outstanding Small Chapter Award from both the Western Division and Society at the AFS-TWS joint meeting in Reno following my year as Chapter President, and 2020 Outstanding Small Chapter Award from the Western Division during my year as Past President. I am proud of the Chapter’s many accomplishments during my tenure with the CO/WY Executive Committee, including hosting a joint Chapter meeting with the Utah Chapter, the establishment of an endowment fund for the Colorado Mesa University Subunit, increased participation from aquaculture personnel in our annual meeting which lead to one of the largest meetings in Chapter history, and formation of the Chapter’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, among many others. I was able to continue my AFS service in 2020-2021 as a member of the Chapter Arrangements Committee, helping put on the Chapter’s first ever virtual meeting, and the Western Division Resource Policy and Environmental Concerns Committee. My participation in AFS has taught me a lot about myself as both a fisheries professional and a leader.

As a graduate student and professional, I have been lucky enough to attend and present at many Chapter, Fish Health Section, Western Division, and Society meetings over the years. I look forward to and enjoy attending these meetings, learning about all the great work being conducted by other fisheries professionals, and connecting with members during the socials. I have met some amazing colleagues and good friends at these meetings, and some of my favorite projects and collaborations originated over a beer at meeting socials. The ability to bring together and facilitate communication between the diverse groups within our profession is one of the great strengths of AFS. As President of the CO/WY Chapter, I took advantage of this aspect of AFS, putting together an opening session on aquaculture and working with state and private hatchery personnel to attend and present at the meeting. The meeting was a huge success, and facilitated communication, teamwork, and camaraderie among the various aquatic sections and disciplines in both states. If elected, I hope to continue the tradition of hosting fun, productive, and informational meetings at the Division level so they can continue to be a useful forum for social and professional engagement. Whether we are working from home, in the office, or in the field, need to hold meetings over Zoom or can meet in person, I hope I can play a role in making AFS a safe and productive place for information dissemination, communication, and fellowship for all Western Division members. I am excited for this opportunity to continue my involvement with and service to AFS, and thank you for your consideration of me as a representative of the Western Division Executive Committee!



Laura Burckhardt

I am seeking election to the office of Secretary-Treasurer to continue to give back to the American Fisheries Society (AFS). Throughout my career, I have found participation in AFS to be very rewarding and have enjoyed being a part of the community within the Arizona-New Mexico, Montana, Dakota, and Colorado-Wyoming Chapters. I have enjoyed supporting AFS by serving in several planning roles for the Western Division, including Poster Chair and on the Program Committee. I served for ten years as on the program committee for the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter and for the last several years on the Environmental Policy Committee. Early in my AFS involvement, I also served for two years as the Newsletter Editor for Arizona-New Mexico Chapter.

I am currently and Aquatic Habitat Biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department focusing on stream restoration and protection projects in the Cody area. I am a certified fisheries biologist and have held fisheries management and research positions in Montana and Arizona. I also spent many years working for an environmental consulting firm on fisheries research and energy development projects across the West. I grew up on Wyoming, completing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming and my Master’s degree at the University of Arizona. Throughout my career, I have found that the most rewarding work I have done is in habitat protection and restoration, and sharing my love of nature with kids.


Student Representative

Katherine Dale

My name is Kat Dale, and I am running for the position of WDAFS Student Representative. I’m currently a 5th year PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where I’ve been involved with the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay Area student subunit since my first year. I’m currently in my second non-consecutive term as president (I have also served as the PR chair and past-president, in addition to my first presidential term). Since I’ve been involved with SCMBAS, we have won the WDAFS Outstanding Subunit award four times and the national Outstanding Subunit Award twice. I have absolutely loved helping develop, fund, or run interesting events for our members and our community, as well as helping our members channel their interests and passions into programs of their own.

I have been interested in getting more involved at higher levels of AFS for a while, and the Student Representative position is a perfect opportunity to do so. I’d like to continue Emily’s work of cultivating connections across student subunits, especially with colleagues in Mexico and Canada. I have some experience connecting subunits already — in 2018 and 2019, I ran a “tri-subunit retreat” with student leaders from the other California subunits, both of which were an absolute blast. I look forward to polling student members about what kinds of skills or professional development opportunities they would find useful and run appropriate events at the WDAFS meeting and through the fall Student Symposium. I recently ran a [virtual] student-mentor networking event at the California-Nevada Chapter annual meeting that was a lot of fun, and it would be great to run something similar at the WDAFS meeting!

As a marine ecologist, I would bring an oceanic perspective to WDAFS. My dissertation work focuses on the dispersal and movement of fishes in the Eastern Pacific, primarily using marine eels as a model system (see my obligatory “fish holding photo” for the largest California moray I’ve ever caught, from Baja Mexico). I’m also examining general trends of larval fish abundance and movement off southern California. My research uses a wide range of lenses to examine dispersal, from genetics to Bayesian statistical models to otoliths to morphology. As WDAFS Student Representative, I’d love to help other students develop a diverse “toolbox” of their own! For more about me, check out my website or Instagram