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Nelson, Bob Conservation Leadership Scholarship

Posted by nitcy | March 29, 2021

Bob Nelson Conservation Leadership Scholarship

Robert D. (Bob), Nelson passed away on February 24, 2021, in Raymond, Washington.  Bob was born on January 22, 1933 in Menlo, Washington.  Online Memory Board:  (Copy and paste into a web browser)

Bob served in the U.S. Navy from 1950-1955.  He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife biology from Washington State University.  He spent his professional career with the U.S. Forest Service.  He started his career as a wildlife biologist in 1960.  He served in that position for three years before serving as an assistant district ranger on the Umatilla National Forest from 1963-1966.  He served as district ranger on the Wenatchee National Forest from 1966-1967.  Bob moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for the Pacific Northwest Region as a range management and wildlife specialist from 1967-1969, and  then as regional wildlife biologist from 1969-1975.  He was promoted to regional range management branch chief in 1970 and stayed in that position until 1975.  From 1975-1980, Bob was the Regional Director for Wildlife and Fisheries for the Pacific Southwest Region.  In 1985, Bob was promoted to National Director for Fisheries and Wildlife in Washington DC and worked there until his retirement in 1997.

Bob had exceptional leadership skills.  He recruited wildlife and fisheries biologists and research scientists throughout his career.  Bob prioritized mentoring and personally cared about his mentees.  So many biologists owe their careers to Bob.  Many of his mentees became nationally-known for their outstanding leadership, accomplishments, and professionalism.  He championed national partnerships with conservation organizations across the U.S.  These led to innovative national programs and initiatives that enhanced fish and wildlife habitats across the U.S.

Bob was honored with numerous prestigious awards.  The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies awarded Bob with the “Ernest Thompson Seton Ward”.   He was awarded the national Gulf Conservation award in 1982.  He was the first recipient of the Forest Service “Lloyd W. Swift  Award in the year 2000 for a ‘Lifetime of Leadership Commitment and Dedication to the wildlife and fisheries resources of the United States”.   The Wildlife Society honored Bob with the prestigious Aldo Leopold Award in 1996.  This is the Nation’s highest professional Wildlife award.

Bob was widely-known for his belief that “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if you don’t worry about who gets the credit”  He not only changed Forest Service wildlife and fish habitat across National Forests and National Grasslands, he changed the Forest Service.

Donors and Available Mentors

Hugh Black
Marc and Odile Bosch
Paul and Carol Brouha
Dale and Ellen Campbell
Jack Capp (see mentorship information below)
Tom Darden
Harvey Forsgren II
James F. Gore
Nancy Green
Gordon Haugen (see mentorship information below)
David and Judy Heller
Barbara Holder (see mentorship information below)
Winifred Kessler and Warren Eastland
Gray Pendelton and Beth Giron Pendelton
Teri Raml
Shelly Witt and James Shoemaker
William Zeedyk

Mentors’ Bios

Jack Capp, or 970-290-1073

I make this donation to honor Bob Nelson, my career mentor.  I would not have had my Forest Service career without Bob.  I offer to mentor Washington State University students in recognition of all that Bob gave to me.   I graduated with two degrees in Wildlife Biology.   I began my Forest Service career in 1967 and worked in variety of positions in New Mexico, Oregon, California, Colorado, Alaska, and Washington D.C.   I served one year on the personal staff of a US Senator.   In my last Forest Service position, I worked internationally establishing conservation partnerships.  After I retired, I taught nature education in inner-city schools in Chicago and Houston.  I now volunteer at Colorado State University and for conservation organizations.

Gordon Haugen, or 406-556-8436

During my professional career, I held leadership positions in the American Fisheries Society and a number of conservation organizations such as Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Trout Unlimited, and Ducks Unlimited.  Since retiring I have been appointed to several Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee that address the management of Montana Fish and Wildlife Resources.  Summary of Professional Career:  Graduated Fish and Wildlife, Montana State University (BS 1963, MS 1969); 1963-70 Alberta Department of Lands and Forests; 1970-75 Watershed Coordinator Rock Creek Drainage, Lolo/Deer Lodge National Forests; 1977-88 Regional Fisheries Biologist, Region 6 USFS; 1988-90 USFS-WO Fish and Wildlife Budget Coordinator (and worked directly for Bob Nelson); 1990-2001 Columbia Basin (FS Regions 1,4,6) Anadromous Fish Coordinator; Retired from USFS January 2001.

Barbara Holder, or 530-474-3422

I was the National Endangered Species Program Manager under Bob Nelson.  I later became a Forest Supervisor.  I would like to be here for any students whom would like to reach out.  I was a women early in the years before it was common to have women in leadership positions.


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Roughly $700,000 in total awards to hundreds of students annually


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