The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies named Herman Todd Holbrook of Conyers, Georgia the 2015 C. W. Watson Award winner at their annual meeting in Ashville this week. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Association.
“Todd Holbrook has proven himself a highly productive wildlife resource manager at all levels from field biologist to deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources,” said SEAFWA President Bob Ziehmer. “In addition to the services rendered in Georgia, his involvement with human dimensions research has left a lasting impact on wildlife management throughout the nation.”
Holbrook is a master at integrating social science into wildlife management. He was one of the first to pay attention to what hunters and anglers wanted and worked within the parameters of sound wildlife management to better the sport and the resource on numerous occasions. For example, he led the development of Georgia’s first statewide deer management plan through an extensive public participation process.
“Todd was also one of the first wildlife professionals to recognize the declining trend in hunter participation,” Ziehmer said “He developed models to explain and predict the trends which enabled state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other conservation groups to develop programs that focused on retaining and recruiting hunters and anglers.”
As one of the original members of the board of directors for Responsive Management, Holbrook was instrumental in providing early guidance and support for what has become the leading research firm for many agencies and outdoor organizations. Responsive Management is an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues.
Under his direction, the GDNR has addressed several important and hotly debated issues surrounding wildlife management through ground-breaking methods now being considered and adopted by other state agencies. For example, the GDNR has instituted a permitting system for the use of dogs to hunt deer and developed an innovative system to address the need for nonconsumptive public land users to contribute to the financial demands of wildlife habitat management. Holbrook’s vision and leadership were instrumental in developing and implementing these programs.
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.
After 27 years with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Holbrook retired and now serves as the president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.