The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) named Alvin A. Taylor the 2019 C. W. Watson Award winner at their annual meeting in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Association.
Taylor retired earlier this year after almost 42 years of service with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). He served as SCDNR Director from March 2012 until May 2019.
"Director Taylor has a long history of serving in leadership positions within SEAFWA including a recent tenure as association president," SEAFWA President Chuck Sykes said. "Through these roles, he has positively impacted policies and programs at the state, regional and national levels. We believe this award is the perfect way to celebrate and honor his career-long achievements and commitment to natural resources.”
Chair of the C. W. Watson Award Committee, Emily Jo Williams, Vice President of Migratory Birds and Habitats for the American Bird Conservancy, said that Director Taylor exemplifies the qualities and spirit of this prestigious award.
“We received a number of excellent nominations for the 2019 award from every sector of our Southeastern conservation community including wildlife, fisheries, law enforcement, administration and research,” Williams said. “Although our decision was difficult given the qualifications of so many incredible professionals, we were blown away with Director Taylor’s contributions to the South Carolina DNR and the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.”
Throughout Taylor’s career, he has been a tireless advocate for South Carolina’s natural resources and has been instrumental in rebuilding the agency’s relationship with the General Assembly. When Taylor first became director, the agency was suffering from reduced budgets and staffing as a result the economic downturn. With Director Taylor as the agency’s most vocal ambassador, state funding for SCDNR has doubled since 2012.
As director, Taylor also helped reform many wildlife laws and regulations, added thousands of acres to the state’s Wildlife Management Area program at no cost to the agency, helped to strengthen conservation measures for popular saltwater game species while providing increased angling opportunities, championed an update to the South Carolina State Water Plan, and established interstate boating and wildlife violator compacts.
Director Taylor has a keen understanding that outreach efforts are critical to the future of conservation. Under his leadership, SCDNR experienced the largest expansion of outreach programs in its history. Through programs such as the National Archery in the Schools Program, Take One Make One, Scholastic Clay Shooting Sports, and middle and high school bass fishing clubs, the agency interacts with more than 170,000 youth each year – not including the constituents impacted through shooting range expansions and the establishment of the agency’s Hispanic outreach program.
"Alvin is filled with integrity, believes in doing what is right and always wants what is best for our Department and its employees,” Interim SCDNR Director Robert Boyles said. "He is respected and admired not because of his title and accomplishments, but because he truly cares about the people and natural resources of our state."
Prior to becoming SCDNR Director, Taylor spent the majority of his career with the agency’s Law Enforcement Division serving as Deputy Director from July 2004 until May 2012. During his tenure with SCDNR’s Law Enforcement Division, Taylor was at the forefront of boating safety and led the charge to establish comprehensive boating safety laws in the state. For those efforts, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association Of State Boating Law Administrators in 2014.
The C.W. Watson award is presented to the career individual who, in the opinion of the Award Committee, has made the greatest contribution to wildlife or fish conservation during the previous year or years. This award is presented jointly by the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society, the Southeastern Section of the Wildlife Society, and the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.