Dr. Krysten Schuler recognized for career achievements

Dr. Krysten L. Schuler of Cornell University received the highest honor from the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies—The Robert McDowell Award for Conservation Management Excellence.

Schuler is a wildlife disease ecologist at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Public and Ecosystem Health.

The award was announced during the Association’s 78th annual conference, the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on May 1, 2023.

The Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies from Virginia to Newfoundland and works to advance the interests of those agencies in conserving fish and wildlife regionwide.

The Robert McDowell Award was established by the Directors of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to honor career professionals who have made significant contributions to advance fish and wildlife conservation in the Northeastern United States and eastern Canadian Provinces. Robert McDowell, the Award’s namesake, was the first recipient of this award.

This award is the highest honor presented by the Association. It is presented to an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a long-term commitment to fish and wildlife resources and the stewardship of those resources;
  • Has made outstanding achievements on behalf of those resources as well as in the field of fish and wildlife management;
  • Has fostered a vision for the future preservation, conservation and use of those resources and an ability to affect change toward that vision;
  • Who nurtures and supports future generations of natural resource managers through innovative information, education, and outreach; and
  • Who has an affiliation of some type with the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

In announcing the presentation to Schuler, the President of the Association, Mark Tisa, Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, made the following comments:

“Here in the Northeast, we are rightly proud of our regional accomplishments. We have a long history of collaboration and cooperation amongst state and provincial agencies, federal agencies, academic institutions, and the nongovernmental sector. With today’s complex fish and wildlife management challenges, we simply cannot accomplish as much working alone, as we can working together. That’s the hallmark here in the Northeast.

Schuler is a nationally known and highly respected scientist who has consistently shown a long-term commitment to wildlife conservation and stewardship.

One of our most challenging and important wildlife management problems is chronic wasting disease. Schuler has been a strong voice for sensible policies and protocols now used by state agencies to deal with CWD.

With CWD and other wildlife diseases, Schuler understands that disease response needs to be at the landscape scale. For this reason, she has focused work on building interagency partnerships to ensure that the response to wildlife diseases is both timely and effective.

Schuler’s research and management interests go well beyond CWD, including support to state agencies as they deal with Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, and West Nile Virus, among others.

Schuler is an outstanding teacher and trainer and has personally led workshops to teach field personnel how to respond to reports of wildlife diseases with an emphasis on field safety, and a focus on practical field skills for wildlife personnel.

While Schuler is a clear national leader in the wildlife disease field, she is particularly active in the Northeast. Just recently, she assisted the State Directors as they developed the regional wildlife disease coordination role and served on the search committee for the new coordinator. Her knowledge of the wildlife disease field was pivotal in helping the search committee to evaluate and ultimately to select the best candidate to serve as the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Health Coordinator.

Beyond these professional accomplishments, Schuler is known to be a highly sought-after team member who consistently makes solid and valuable contributions to any topic she engages in, volunteers to take on important tasks, and does so with grace, humor, and intelligence.

For the Northeast Agencies, and beyond, Schuler is a consummate professional, and her accomplishments have only just begun. We can all expect much more from her in the years to follow. And we can be sure that her contributions will have the highest stature and importance.

On behalf of the state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies, I congratulate Dr. Krysten L. Schuler for her accomplishments in the field of wildlife disease ecology, and her unwavering commitment to the use of sound science in managing wildlife diseases.”

Adapted from a press release from the Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Inc.