Diversity and Inclusion Awards


This page contains information on the Diversity & Inclusion Service Award and Diversity & Inclusion Mentorship Travel Grant presented by Western Division Diversity and Inclusion Committee.


Diversity & Inclusion Service Award – The WDAFS Diversity & Inclusion Committee presents this award to an AFS Western Division Member who has exhibited service and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the fisheries profession. The purpose of this award is to celebrate every day, unsung heroes who dedicate their time and passion to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. There is no cash gift associated with this award, although the award recipient will receive a certificate.

To nominate someone for the D&I Service Award, please write a one-page summary of the contributions and accomplishments of the nominee, noting specifically how they have exhibited service and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the fisheries profession. Self-nominations and peer-nominations are encouraged. We will follow up with nominees to request a CV or resume for additional information for scoring.

Diversity & Inclusion Mentorship Travel Grant – The WDAFS Diversity & Inclusion Committee presents this award to a promising student or early career professional interested in developing diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership skills. For the duration of the year, the award recipient will receive mentorship by Diversity and Inclusion Committee members and have the opportunity to participate in Committee activities. Preference will be given to applicants from underrepresented identities in the fisheries field. AFS membership is not required to apply to this award. Please include information detailing the applicant’s interest in fisheries and in developing diversity, equity, and inclusion-related leadership skills, and any additional materials as needed (e.g., letters of recommendation, resume, etc.).

The recipient of the D&I Mentorship Travel Grant will receive up to $1,000 (USD) for meeting registration, travel costs, and one year of AFS membership (if needed) to attend the Western Division American Fisheries Society annual meeting. This meeting will be held in Boise, Idaho May 8-11, 2023.

Applicants will be ranked on the following criteria:

  1.   Applicants who plan to actively participate at the 2023 annual meeting. This can include presenting an oral or poster presentation, assisting the planning committee, moderating a session, etc.
  2.   Applicants who are active (or interested in becoming active) in a sub-unit, Chapter, Western Division, or the Society.
  3.   Applicants who indicate a strong interest in fisheries, oceans, aquatic science and management.
  4.   Applicants who are a student or early career professional.

Travel Grant Reimbursement

Receipts must be submitted to the WDAFS Secretary-Treasurer within 30 days of the annual meeting, typically by email. Instructions for reimbursement will be provided when successful applicants are notified. The travel grant recipient will be notified prior to abstract and early registration deadlines for the annual meeting.

**WDAFS recognizes that some students and professionals may not have the financial status to pay for meeting registration on a reimbursable basis. As such, WDAFS is considering ways to immediately reimburse travel award winners prior to the meeting for early registration. Please indicate if immediate reimbursement is requested in your application. Reimbursement will not exceed the amount awarded.

Please send your nomination materials to diversityinclusion@wdafs.org by February 24, 2023. If you have any questions about these awards, please contact us at diversityinclusion@wdafs.org.

Past D&I Award and Travel Grant Recipients


D&I Service Award:
Eric Billman
Jessica Buelow
Keats Conley
Catharine Coykendall
Kat Gilles-Rector
Robert Hand
Sammy Matsaw
Christine Stewart
Hannah Swain
Joe Thiessen
Rob Van Kirk


No award given


Cheryl Barnes – D&I Service Award

Taylor Preul – D&I Mentorship Travel Grant


Cheyenne Owens – D&I Service Award

Karli Tyance – D&I Mentorship Travel Grant


Dr. Zach Penney – D&I Service Award

Jesse Gordon – D&I Mentorship Travel Grant


We wish to congratulate the recipients of the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Service Award, Cheryl Barnes, and 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Mentorship Travel Grant, Taylor Preul. Both recipients demonstrated leadership in promoting diversity and inclusion in fisheries, and their service has supported involvement in fisheries-related activities by those who are from underrepresented identities. We thank you for your dedication to this worthy endeavor.

Cheryl Barnes (she | her) is originally from California, where she earned a BS in biology from San Diego State University and an MS in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. She moved to Alaska at the start of 2015 (first Juneau, then Sitka, and finally Anchorage) to complete a PhD in fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She now resides in coastal Oregon, where she works as a postdoctoral scholar associated with the University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries. Cheryl is generally interested in conducting research that informs marine resource management. Much of her work has focused on better understanding population and community dynamics of groundfishes in the North Pacific. Currently, she uses statistical models to evaluate biological and ecological responses to rapidly changing conditions in Alaskan waters.

Apart from fish, Cheryl is passionate about enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Wholeheartedly believing in the power of visibility, she shares that she is a first generation college student from a working class family and identifies as queer. Cheryl strives to bring her authentic self into her work and is committed to dissolving barriers to participation in the fisheries field. As part of these efforts, she serves as a member of the Western Division AFS Diversity & Inclusion Committee and as chair of the Alaska Chapter AFS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Taylor Preul (she | her) is originally from northern Wisconsin, and she earned her B.S. in Biology-Ecology from Northern Michigan University in 2017. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was involved in multiple diversity and equity projects while participating in student government. She has worked as an intern for the National Park Service (NPS) in Sleeping Bear Dunes, a technician for NPS in Yellowstone National Park, and a technician for Montana State University (MSU) on the Madison River. She began her M.S. program in Fisheries Management at MSU in 2018, and her research focuses on identifying phenotypic traits that may predict hatchery performance of westslope cutthroat trout. She plans to defend her thesis in Fall 2021. She has been involved with the American Fisheries Society throughout her graduate career and currently serves as President of the MSU student sub-unit. As President, she has focused on updating the organizational procedures to be equitable and inclusive and highlighting diversity and inclusion during activities and as reflected on the sub-unit’s website. After graduation, she plans to pursue doctoral research that incorporates human dimensions, environmental history, and/or political ecology.