Virginia and South Carolina wildlife agencies recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts


The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) recognized the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) for its workforce diversity and inclusion efforts and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for its outreach and education diversity and inclusion efforts during SEAFWA's 75th annual meeting, held in Roanoke Oct. 17-20.

Photo of award presentation
David Buggs (left), Chair, MINRC Committee, Ryan Brown (center), Executive Director, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources; Paul Johansen (right), President, SEAFWA

The SEAFWA Minorities in Natural Resources Conservation (MINRC) Committee established the Diversity and Inclusion Award program to recognize the achievements of outstanding diversity and inclusion employment and outreach practices among SEAFWA member agencies. The program's intent is to engage under-represented audiences in outdoor recreation and nature.

“I think all of our member agencies realize the value of diversifying the citizens engaging in agency programs and the people who make up our workforce,” SEAFWA President Paul Johansen said. "Broadening the direct connections of people from all backgrounds helps us better manage natural resources for everyone, and that is the fundamental duty of state wildlife agencies. I’m proud to celebrate the extraordinary work in this area from Virginia and South Carolina."

The Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Award recognizes new and successful efforts to implement programs, initiatives, and practices to recruit and retain diverse talent. The VDWR was selected for this award for its organization’s multifaceted efforts to increase employee diversity. The VDWR established a partnership with Affinity Police Officer Associations, conducted direct recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, increased focus on recruiting college athletes, and changed its media strategy to include more diversity in its images and media distribution channels.

Photo of award presentation
David Buggs (left), Chair, MINRC Committee, Alix A. Pedraza (center), South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Paul Johansen (right), President, SEAFWA

The Diversity Outreach and Education Award recognizes efforts to connect with and establish active, consistent engagement of minorities, women, and persons with disabilities in the areas of wildlife and environmental conservation. The SCDNR was selected for its expanded outreach within the Hispanic and African American communities, which has allowed SCDNR to better understand the broader South Carolina population and aided the agency’s commitment to employ and retain the best and brightest talent across all demographics. 

"The Diversity and Inclusion Awards recognize these SEAFWA member agencies for its strong commitment to a diverse workforce and engagement of all state residents in the outdoors," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Buggs, who presented the awards. “Just as we must consider the needs of many species in our habitat management decisions, we recognize the importance of including diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences in our agencies and considering these different perspectives as we manage public resources. Together, we can ensure that everyone is represented in the great outdoors.”

The winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Award is chosen by a small group of volunteers with the SEAFWA MINRC Committee and judged on its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the effectiveness of its programs, and any partnership developed and used to support its diversity and inclusion goals.