Chapter History

In mid-April thousands of fishermen gather at Whitney Drain, a manmade canal on Lake Huron to dipnet for these small fish.

In mid-April thousands of fishermen gather at Whitney Drain, a manmade canal on Lake Huron to dipnet for these small fish.

The initiative for the Michigan Chapter began in 1971 when a few American Fisheries Society members from Michigan State University and the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division held several meetings to discuss the need for a Michigan Chapter.  This led to a letter on May 15, 1973, to all Michigan members of the AFS from an Interim Organizational Committee (G. P. Cooper, T. R. Doyle, and N. R. Kevern), asking for nominations for an initial slate of officers and for other suggestions.  This resulted in the nomination of 4 individuals for President (G. P. Cooper, J. H. Kutkuhn, B. J. Patrick, W. H. Tody), 8 for Vice-President (G. R. Alexander, D. P. Borgeson, J. E. Gannon, R. C. Haas, H. E. Johnson, E. W. Roelofs, T. M. Stauffer, B. R. Ylkanen), and 5 for Secretary-Treasurer (E. H. Bacon, T. R. Doyle, N. E. Fogle, T. E. Mears, C. L. Schelske).  Subsequently, a mail ballot (Aug., 1973) was sent to 224 members, with 126 ballots returned.  The first officers elected were as follows: G. P. Cooper (President), E. W. Roelofs (Vice-President), and T. R. Doyle (Secretary-Treasurer).  The petition for the formation of a Michigan Chapter was approved by the national society during its annual meeting in Florida on September 14, 1973. The Alaska and Humbolt Chapter were also approved that year.  Twenty-four Chapters had been created earlier, with the Portland Chapter being the first to be incorporated in 1962.

The organizational meeting of the Chapter was held at the House of Ing in Lansing on March 8, 1974.  The general theme of the meeting was “Chapter Goals” and 85 members were in attendance.  The morning session consisted of chapter business and a talk by AFS National President Ray E. Johnson.  The afternoon was devoted to a 6-person panel led by N. R. Kevern discussing “why have a Chapter?”  The panel’s discussion, together with a membership response to a questionnaire on Chapter goals are summarized as follows: (1) promote the professional development of fishery scientists and advertise our role in fisheries management, education, and research, (2) lobby State policy bodies on important issues, (3) act as a watchdog on environmental problems, (4) provide a meeting place where students, neophytes, and seasoned professionals can interact and report on their work, (5) encourage students to be more active in the Society, (6) promote communication among disciplines and affiliate with related groups, and (7) consider two annual awards recognizing outstanding contributions by Michigan Chapter members.  The Chapter has accomplished much in these seven areas since 1974 and several are still being emphasized in our current Long Range Plan.

The Chapter’s first committees and chairs appointed by Gerald Cooper were: Bylaws (N. R. Kevern), Resolutions (D. R. Passino), Membership (T. R. Doyle), Program (E. W. Roelofs), Auditing (R. J. White), Brochure (D. P. Borgeson), Special projects (R. A. Cole), Nominations (W. C. Latta), and Professionalism (J. D. Bails). Auditing, Membership, Program, Resolutions and the Nomination Committee stood the test of time and are still active committees today.  They were established in the bylaws in 1980.  The bylaws specified that the Vice-President be Chairman of the Program Committee.  Bylaws and the Brochure committees were adhoc and had accomplished their goals by July, 1975.  President Cooper appointed the Secretary-Treasurer as the Membership Chairman but this duty was later dropped.  The Special Projects committee was active through 1983, whereas the Professionalism Committee became inactive around 1978.  An Awards Committee was established as a standing committee in 1985.  Environmental Concerns along with Public Relations and Public Information adhoc committee were authorized in 1984 but were active for only two years.  A Past President’s Committee was started in 1992 and chaired by current Past President, Patrick Hudson.  This committee was designed to handle special projects and act as a sounding board for the chapter.  The first special project was to develop an aquatic resource education plan for K-12 grades.

Nominations for Chapter offices before 1983 were made from the floor and election by acclamation.  In 1983, a pre-printed ballot was made available at the meeting and in 1984 candidates’ resumes were published in the Chapter newsletter.  The first mail ballot was instituted in 1986 due to a lack of a quorum at the joint meeting with Illinois and Indiana Chapters in Chicago.  Gerald Cooper’s term of office as president was 18 months because of the initial start-up of the Chapter, as was Bill Taylor’s term due to a change in the business year in 1985.  A list of former officers can be found here.

The two annual awards that were original goals of the Chapter were not formalized until 1979 and the first recipients were chosen in 1980.  Notes from 1975 mentioned appointing an Awards Committee.  President Tom Doyle proposed an annual award in 1976 for outstanding work in the aquatic sciences in Michigan, which was to be designated the Justin W. Leonard Memorial Award, but no action was taken at that time.  In 1978, Neal Foster recommended the Chapter give two awards: one recognizing a professional worker who would receive a plaque and one recognizing a student who would receive a certificate and cash.  In 1979, Howard Alexander developed the standards for the Albert S. Hazzard Award recognizing an outstanding student and Neal Foster developed the criteria for the Leonard Award of Excellence for professional achievement.  The Leonard Award plaque was crafted by Dick James of Ann Arbor.  Past winners of these two awards and a brief description of their achievement or thesis problem can be found by clicking the respective links above.

A student travel grant to the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference was started in December 1993.  The Chapter provides $125 for a student and the North Central Division provides $100.  Another student travel grant was started in spring 1995 (initiated by then president-elect Jaci Savino) to enhance attendance of students to the Chapter meeting.  A student in the Upper Peninsula would be awarded $100 to attend a Chapter meeting in the Lower Peninsula; if the meeting was in the U.P., then a student from the Lower Peninsula would be selected.  The student concerns committee oversees the applications for these grants.

There were 138 dues-paying members in the first year of the Chapter, and over the next 15 years membership varied between 100 and 185.  Several strong membership drives in the late eighties and allowing the Society to collect Chapter dues pushed Chapter membership over 200.  As of late 1990, the Chapter membership exceeded 300 individuals.  The Chapter had earlier turned down the opportunity to have the Society collect our dues (1982), but the adoption of this procedure in 1988 appeared to be a major factor in increasing membership.  By 1979, the Chapter coffers had reached $1,000 and by 1989 it had exceeded $2,000.  Dues were originally $2, increased to $3 in 1977, $4 in 1982, and $5 in 1988.

Michigan Chapter meetings have been held in many different cities (complete list available here).  Wa Wa Sum Lodge near Grayling has hosted the most meetings since becoming the routine fall meeting place in 1984.  Prior to 1984, meetings were held at a variety of places in the Lower Peninsula.  Typically, the morning session was reserved for business and presentations and the afternoon to a tour of local facilities. One meeting has been held in the Upper Peninsula.  The fall meeting in 1976 was held in conjunction with the Society’s annual meeting in Dearborn.  The first joint meeting was in 1977 with Ohio which we hosted in Monroe.  We met again with Ohio as a host in 1979 at Wheatly, Ontario.  This meeting consisted of a tour of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Lake Erie Fisheries Research Station and the Fish Processing Facilities of Omsted Foods Ltd.  Many of the fall meetings used to be tours rather than formal meetings.  Joint meetings were held with Indiana and Ohio in 1980; Illinois and Indiana in 1986; and Wisconsin in 1994 and 2004.  The spring meeting was standardized in 1983, with subsequent spring meetings often alternating between the Ann Arbor area and East Lansing.  The East Lansing meeting has sometimes been associated with Agriculture and Natural Resources Week on the Michigan State University campus.  Attendance at the meetings runs around 60 to 90 people except in 1979 when 109 attended the spring meeting in Saline.

Early correspondence between Chapter officers and members were in the form of memos (1 to 3 per year) up until 1979 when a 2-page fall newsletter appeared.  In 1980 and 1981, two newsletters were published and in 1982, Tom Doyle was appointed the first newsletter editor.  The size of the newsletter increased in 1983 to around four pages and three issues were published (winter, spring, and fall).  A logo designed by Roann Ogawa appeared on the cover of the first issue of 1984.  A summer issue was added in 1984 which contained a standardized paragraph describing issue dates, purpose of the newsletter, and the editor’s name and address.  Bill Creal assisted Tom Doyle in publishing the first two issues in 1984 and became the sole editor of the spring issue.  The 1984 issues were 7-10 pages long, a size which still persists today because of postal costs.  In the March 1985 issues, the full page logo was reduced to a quarter size and Brenda Sayles became a co-editor with the June 1985 issue.  The 1985 Michigan Newsletter was recognized by a panel of Society members as the third best in the Society.  Mike Thomas was appointed editor with the January 1989 issue which also contained a new logo designed by Jill Dufour; he continued as editor until fall 1995 when Mary Burnham-Curtis was appointed.

Other noteworthy events associated with the Michigan Chapter include the absorption of the MSU Student Chapter in 1984, efforts to form a Upper Peninsula Chapter, and the first salmon boil.  The attempt to form an Upper Peninsula Chapter in 1981 was turned down by the Society; in 1982 Jack Hammond and Jerry Manz provided the first salmon boil in Manistee.  This became a fall meeting tradition for many years thanks to Ludwig Frankenberger and Ralph Hay.  The first Chapter raffle by Gary Whalen occurred at the 1986 fall meeting and earned $130.50.

As the Chapter has matured, members have become more active and recognized in the North Central Division and in the Parent Society.  Several presidents of the North Central Division have come from the Michigan Chapter: William W. Taylor (1990-91), James Diana (1994-95), and Thomas Coon (1995-96).  We also have members that have gone on to be presidents of the Parent Society: Carlos M. Fetterolf, Jr. (1992-93), and William W. Taylor (1997-98). Dr. Will Hartman won the North Central Division Award of Excellence in 1991.  The Michigan Chapter won “Best Chapter Award” from the North Central Division in 1991 and “The Most Active Chapter Award” from AFS in 1992.

The Midwest Fish and Wildlife Meeting met in Detroit in 1995 and Grand Rapids in 2005.  The Michigan DNR hosted the meeting and Chapter members helped in many of the local arrangement committees.

The 1996 AFS meeting was held in Dearborn, MI. The Michigan Chapter, Michigan DNR, and the Michigan universities hosted the event.  Members were heavily involved in the program (Mary Fabrizio, chair) and local arrangements committees (Ron Spitler, chair).  Bill Taylor represented universities and Jaci Savino represented the Michigan Chapter on the steering committee.  AFS is contributing a $10,000 legacy for youth education that will be administered jointly by universities (with MSU providing a home for it), the DNR, and the Michigan Chapter.