Paul Johansen, President of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) has announced the appointment of Ross Melinchuk as the organization’s Executive Director.
Melinchuk, of Aiken, South Carolina, has over four decades of experience in the natural resource management and conservation field, including over thirty years in senior management and leadership roles. He has been actively engaged in public policy at all levels. His extensive experience most recently includes serving as Chief Conservation Officer with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) in Edgefield, South Carolina. He was responsible for program planning, budgeting, administration, and implementation of conservation and research, habitat restoration and enhancement, and hunter retention and reactivation programs in partnership with public and private organizations.
Prior to his NWTF experience, Melinchuk was the Director of Conservation Programs and Partnerships for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Before that position, he was Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources for TPWD, overseeing the Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, and Wildlife Divisions, the agency’s Water Resources Branch, as well as its Geographic Information System and International Affairs programs. He represented Texas and its 3200 staff members by serving in positions with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and its regional organizations including SEAFWA, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative Council, and the IUCN’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, among others.
Preceding his tenure in Texas, Melinchuk spent almost two decades with Ducks Unlimited (DU), initially serving as principal liaison with government and non-governmental organizations to fund and implement the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) out of Memphis, then eventually moving to Jackson, Mississippi as Director of Public Policy, where he was responsible for providing strategic direction for public policy and state grant activities for a 15-state region. Before his career with DU, he served more than two years in Washington, DC, as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Coordinator for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, Melinchuk began his professional career as a wildlife biologist, ultimately becoming the Saskatchewan Environment & Renewable Resources NAWMP Coordinator before heading to the U.S. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Guelph and earned his Master of Science degree from Lakehead University.
Among his many professional awards, Melinchuk received special recognition in 2018 from SEAFWA, was presented the Pheasants Forever Habitat Partnership Award in 2015, and in 2016 received Ducks Unlimited’s Conservation Achievement Award.
“Mr. Melinchuk is a leader with unparalleled successes working across public and private sectors to represent wide-ranging organizations and work for conservation. We are pleased to have him return to SEAFWA as Executive Director,” said Johansen.
“As a former state agency representative to SEAFWA, I am well acquainted with the history, role, and business of the Association and appreciate the important service that SEAFWA provides to its member agencies and partners,” said Melinchuk. “I am honored and excited to serve as SEAFWA’s Executive Director and look forward to working with its member agency directors and staff, and their many public, private, corporate and institutional partners.”
Melinchuk assumed his new role with SEAFWA on March 7, 2022.