Awards & Scholarships

Awards & Scholarships Overview

The ACTWS annually administers four professional awards, five student scholarships, and several student travel awards.

The call for professional nominations, photo contest submissions, student awards, and student travel awards is now open for our 2024 Joint ACTWS & CSTWS Conference.
Professional Awards Submission Deadline: Friday, January 19, 2024 
Student Scholarship & Travel Grant Submission Deadline: Friday, January 26, 2024 

Professional Awards

Recognize someone for their special contribution. Consider nominating a colleague today.

  • Nominations can be made by any ACTWS member.
  • Nominees are normally residents of Alberta or have made a significant contribution in Alberta.
  • Awards will be presented at the joint ACTWS/CSTWS conference.
  • Eligible nominations can be considered for up to 3 years. 

This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to Alberta’s fish and wildlife through effective and excellent communication to the public.

Deadline: January 19th, 2024

Apply using this Google Form.

These two awards recognize wildlife professionals for outstanding written contributions in:

1. technical publication (within the past 3 years)

2. popular publication (within the past 3 years)

Publications can be a book, article, or monograph but must be relevant to wildlife management and conservation. The review committee will assess publications based on originality, impact on management and conservation science, and overall presentation. The Alberta Chapter will announce the winning publications at the annual conference. Each award will include a plaque presented to the authors at the joint ACTWS/CSTWS conference and the winning publication(s) will be recognized in the newsletter.

Please indicate category in the nomination.

Deadline: January 19th, 2024

Apply using this Google Form.

The William Rowan Distinguished Service Award is presented to an Alberta wildlife biologist who has made outstanding cumulative contributions to the management and conservation of wildlife and their habitats. These contributions could involve excellence in research, teaching, public allocation (hunting, nonconsumptive use), habitat protection and development, land use planning, impact assessment, endangered species management, work in professional associations or any other area of the wildlife management profession.

The awards committee is asking for nominations from the membership for this prestigious award. A nomination involves a letter of support from a Chapter member along with the candidate’s curriculum vitae/resume. The letter should explain the value of the nominee’s contributions in the areas outlined above.

Deadline: January 19th, 2024

Apply using this Google Form.

Presented to an Alberta Chapter member who actively and unselfishly contributes their time and resources to further the aims and objectives of the Chapter. This award acknowledges members whose contributions far exceed the expectations of being a member and capture the spirit and essence of dedication to the Chapter. The awards committee asks for nominations for this award in the form of a letter of support from one or more Chapter members.

Deadline: January 19th, 2024

Apply using this Google Form.

Larry Norman Comin Photo Contest

Share with us those exceptional photographs where you caught incredible wildlife poses, beautiful landscapes, or just stunning moments in nature. Submit your photograph to the Larry Norman Comin Photo Contest using the link provided, by January 19, 2024. There are three categories for submission: Wildlife Poses, Landscapes, Relationships with Nature. An award is presented for the top photo and the winner announced at the meeting banquet.

For more information, please consult this document.

Deadline: Friday, January 19, 2024

Submit Photos

Student Scholarships

The Alberta Chapter annually presents academic student awards to promote interest and reward excellence in the field of wildlife conservation. A list of past recipients can be viewed here.

Applicants must have a demonstrated interest in wildlife management and clearly state how their career goals align with the award and the lifetime achievements of its namesake. Student submissions for each award category are reviewed by ACTWS member committees.

Scholarship Application Deadline: January 26, 2024


January 26th, 2024

This award is open to students that are presently enrolled in a technical program in the Province of Alberta, focusing on wildlife biology or management, and will be enrolled full-time in September 2024 (participating on a co-op work term is also eligible). Program examples include, but are not limited to: Renewable Resource Option (NAIT), Wildlife and Fisheries Major (Lakeland), Renewable Resource Management Diploma (Lethbridge College). Please note that programs in conservation enforcement are not eligible for this award.

Submission Requirements
  • Transcript of marks for courses taken and a list of courses planned for remainder of program, if any.
  • Contact information for one reference (e.g., a faculty member or other professional biologist) who agrees to be contacted by the Awards committee.
  • Typed essay (500 words or fewer) outlining: career goals and relevance to this awards; summary of involvement or experience with the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and summary of volunteer or work experience in the wildlife field.

Apply using this Google Form.


January 26th, 2024

This award is open to students planning a career in wildlife management and preparing to enter the final year of a 4-year Alberta university program in Biological Sciences, Forest Science, Animal Sciences, Zoology, or related field of study, in September 2024. This award is also open to students entering the final year of the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Ecosystem Management – Fish and Wildlife stream at Lethbridge College. The award funds will be disbursed upon confirmation of registration for the next year of full-time enrollment.

Submission Requirements
  • Transcript of marks for courses taken, and a list of courses planned for their final year.
  • Contact information for one reference (e.g., a faculty member or other professional biologist) who agrees to be contacted by the Awards committee.
  • Typed essay (500 words or fewer) outlining: career goals and relevance to this awards; summary of involvement or experience with the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and summary of volunteer or work experience in the wildlife field.


January 26th, 2024

This award is open to students planning a career in wildlife management and accepted into a full-time post-graduate degree program at a Canadian University in Biological Sciences, Forest Science, Animal Sciences, Zoology, or related field of study (must be enrolled full-time in September 2024), and conducting the majority of their (field) research in Alberta.

Submission Requirements
  • Outline of proposed thesis work
  • Transcript of marks for undergraduate and graduate courses
  • Contact information for one reference (e.g., a faculty member or other professional biologist) who agrees to be contacted by the Awards committee
  • Typed essay (500 words or fewer) outlining: career goals and relevance to this awards; summary of involvement or experience with the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and summary of volunteer or work experience in the wildlife field.

EDI Scholarships

Applicants must have a demonstrated interest in wildlife management and clearly state how their career goals align with the award details below. 

The Wildlife Society (TWS) is committed to the identification and removal of barriers to recruitment, effective mentoring, retention of a diverse workforce, and to communicating with a diverse array of stakeholders. TWS recognizes the value of including the richness of human diversity in our efforts to discover, educate, inform policy, and involve the public in wildlife science and management. The ACTWS has always been an organization that welcomes all people with an interest in participating in wildlife and habitat research and conservation.

The ACTWS Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) works to address equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Alberta wildlife profession. One of the goals of the EDIC is to reduce financial barriers experienced by members of marginalized communities in entering or staying in the wildlife profession. These student awards are one part of our effort to address that complex issue. 

These scholarships are one program of the EDIC. Learn more about this committee’s work and see their Terms of Reference that outlines committee goals and objectives.

EDI Scholarship Application Deadline: January 26, 2024

Encouraging diversity in the wildlife profession starts with encouraging diversity in wildlife programs at our post-secondary institutions. There are several colleges, universities, and schools in Alberta that offer post-secondary courses in wildlife science and management. Often starting a post-secondary education can be a financial barrier for a variety of reasons, these reasons may be exacerbated or compounded for people from marginalized communities. Sometimes, these barriers may be sufficient to prevent people from entering the field or committing to a multi-year program at a post-secondary institution. This student award is designed to encourage and empower students to commit to a post-secondary education in a wildlife related field. Increasing the diversity of people in the wildlife profession starts with their post-secondary education. 


January 26th, 2024


This award is open to students who identify themselves as members of a marginalized community that are currently in or about to enter a wildlife related program at a post-secondary institution in the province of Alberta. Program examples include but are not limited to: Resource Option (NAIT), Wildlife and Fisheries Major (Lakeland), Renewable Resource Management Diploma (Lethbridge College).

Submission Requirements

  • Transcript of marks for high school or post-secondary.
  • Contact information for one reference (e.g., a faculty member, other professional biologist, or other professional mentor/traditional knowledge holder) who agrees to be contacted by the Awards committee.
  • Typed essay (500 words or fewer) outlining: career goals and relevance to this award; and summary of volunteer or work experience in the wildlife field (if any), or summary of transferable skills that apply to the wildlife field; a short description of why you think addressing EDI is important for the wildlife profession.
  • Complete this Google Form to submit your application. 

Student Registration Grants

The Alberta Chapter helps students attend the annual conference every March.  We invite qualifying students to apply for an award to assist with their registration expenses. Individual travel awards will be 50% of the student registration fee.


All applicants must be:

  1. a member of ACTWS (at time of application);
  2. pursuing a career in wildlife research and/or management; and
  3. Must be in financial need and not have another source of funding to register for the conference.
Apply here by January 20th.

Additional Eligibility Criteria
Applicants must also be:

  1. a current student or recent (within the last 12 months) graduate;
  2. a senior author and presenter of an accepted poster or oral presentation; and
  3. conducting research or has proposed to conduct research on wildlife, fisheries, and/or related habitats within Alberta.

Although a student’s paper/poster must be accepted for presentation by the ACTWS Program Committee to receive the Award, students should apply for the award prior to being notified by the Program Committee of abstract acceptance.


January 20, 2023.

Additional Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must also:

  1. Not have attended an ACTWS conference in the past.
  2. Be presently enrolled in either:
  • a post-secondary program in a technical college or 4-year University program in Alberta. The program must be focused in Biological Sciences, Forestry Science, Animal Science, Zoology, Environmental Sciences, or related field of study.


  • a Grade 12 Alberta high school with anticipated graduation date in 2022. Student must have an interest in pursuing a career in the wildlife field.


January 20, 2023.

Student Travel Awards

The ACTWS would like to help students attend the conference scheduled for 8–10 March 2024 in Jasper, Alberta.  We invite qualifying students to apply for a Student Travel Award to assist with their travel expenses. 

Travel Award Application Deadline: January 26, 2024

Eligibility requirements

Applicants must be:

  1. a member of the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society;
  2. a current student or recent (within the last 12 months) graduate; and
  3. senior author and presenter of an accepted poster or oral presentation.

Successful applicants will be asked to provide voluntary service during the conference and, following the conference, they must submit an expense claim, one or more photos, and a short write-up about their experiences at the conference.  The photos and write-ups will be used in the ACTWS member newsletter. Although a student’s paper/poster must be accepted for presentation by the ACTWS Program Committee to receive the Award, students should apply for the award prior to being notified by the Program Committee of abstract acceptance.

Application for Individual Travel Award

Application for Group Travel Award

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

Bob Goddard

We all experience death. Some deaths are lamentable, but because of distance barely touch us. Others, although sad, come at the end of long life and are in some ways, a kindness. The deaths that touch most of us deeply are the tragic ones where life ends long before the allotted time. Such is the case of Bob’s death in November 1995.

Bob died near Pincher Creek on the way to an elk hunt, a pursuit that had taken on the aspect of a search for the holy grail. Ironically, the vehicle that collided with Bob’s had three young men also on their way to a Saturday hunt. That Bob died in pursuit of something he loved eases the pain of his passing somewhat, but the gap he leaves is large.

I helped sort through Bob’s office a week after the accident and the archeological dig in his office represented brought back many memories of a man eclectic in his interests, with a passion for his profession. The sorting also reminded me that Bob managed to find something funny in even the blackest of situations; his often perverse, silly sense of humour was always an antidote for the blues.

Bob began his Fish and Wildlife career at the Brooks Pheasant Hatchery (or, as it was known in the 1980s, the Brooks Wildlife Centre) as a wildlife technician involved in pheasant rearing. Where some might have looked at pheasant rearing as glorified chicken ranching Bob delved into life history, physiology, behavior, habitat, and pheasant utilization (i.e., hunting and predators). That was typical of Bob – don’t learn a little when you can learn a lot.

Whether pheasants were the spark, or the broad base of research happening at the Brooks Wildlife Centre in its formative years, or Bob’s interest in natural history, all became a springboard for his talent in bird identification, both by sight and sound. There are very few people in Alberta considered proficient at bird identification, especially by calls and song, but Bob was one of the elite. Bob put that talent to work as he matured into an ecologist, determining the relationships of many prairie bird species to rangeland habitats.

One of Bob’s bits of unfinished business was an investigation of the ecological relationship of Baird’s sparrow to range condition. He was going to turn this research into a Bachelor’s degree in Science, a major step in his career.

Bob’s aim, as he matured as a wildlife manager, wasn’t research. It was to demonstrate how careful, intelligent use of a landscape can produce many benefits especially if landscape health is the goal instead of products. To do that Bob drew on another rare talent – the ability to help people see both sides of the equation. One of the toughest assignments he had, as a habitat technician when the province still had the Habitat Branch, and later as a habitat specialist for NAWMP (North American Waterfowl Management Plan) was wetland conservation in the irrigation districts of southern Alberta. On the irrigation industry’s march to “efficiency” thousands of acres of wildlife habitat have been eliminated. Bob had a long, hard, uphill battle to convince irrigation farmers of the value of bits of “wasteland” covered with willow, cattails or rank grass growth. Skepticism towards the value of wildlife and habitat to support wildlife is a problem all wildlife professionals face. Bob dealt with it often by taking the message directly to the farmer. As a testament to Bob’s communication and negotiating skills, as well as a large measure of patience and persistence, his successes are numerous. You likely won’t recognize those successes – the best habitat protection and development contains no monuments and few signs of intervention. Yet, those creatures who find a haven in these natural pieces of the agricultural landscape are a tangible expression of the efforts of one man to convince others that wildlife is important.

Bob’s achievements are a legacy on the land, the only place where it really counts. Bob had a big streak of humility; he didn’t seek rewards or credit for all the success stories he was a part of. He had that rare quality of being as excited about other people’s successes as his own.

In a larger sense, because of his philosophy and qualities, the people of Alberta have been well served by Bob’s efforts to conserve wildlife. In a smaller, more personal way, a lot of us were touched by Bob, by his compassion, his concern for people, and by his sharing nature – he couldn’t say no to a request for help. Bob also had the rare quality of adding just the right measure of silliness into our lives. The stories of Bob’s humour and practical jokes are legion. It’s not surprising he attracted a large circle of friends. That is a pretty impressive legacy too, and a measure of the man.

– Lorne Fitch

Ian Ross

Ian Ross

Members of The Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society lost a fine colleague, contributor, and friend when Ian Ross was killed at the age of 44 in a light aircraft accident while radio tracking lions for the Laikipia Predator Project near Nanyuki, Kenya.

Born in Goderich, Ontario he was a true outdoorsman from the beginning, running a trapline even during high school. Ian graduated from the University of Guelph with an honours degree in Wildlife Biology in 1982 and began his field career working on a variety of wildlife species including snapping turtles and black bears. He soon headed west to Alberta looking for new challenges and for a short while was a beekeeper near Hythe in northwestern Alberta. This led to a job as a wildlife biologist with a small Calgary consulting firm where he had his first experiences with grizzly bears, studying the effects of industrial development southwest of Grande Prairie. Thus began an illustrious 20-yr career of research on large mammals, principally large carnivores in western Canada.

In the early 1980s Ian began work on the Sheep River Cougar Project with Orval Pall and Martin Jalkotzy. Many happy days were spent snow-tracking cougars for hundreds of kms up and down the foothills of Kananaskis Country. His joy working on the cougar project was prophetically cut short when his mentor, Orval Pall, died in a plane crash while radio-tracking bighorns in the Rockies in June 1986. However, the hook was set. Ian and Martin continued the Sheep River Project and the 14-yr project became the most intensive study of cougars in Canada and one of the longest running research projects on Puma concolor in North America. This work formed the basis of a new management plan for cougars in Alberta as well as the draft conservation strategy for large carnivores in Canada, a project initiated by World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Cougar attracted much attention and Ian used that attention to foster a thoughtful and effective wildlife conservation message to all those who came to his many public speaking engagements. His work on the cougar project received national radio recognition on CBC Morningside with Peter Gzowski and then Arthur Black of CBC Basic Black program followed along with Ian and Martin while they radio-collared a cougar. Several dubbed it some of the best radio they had ever heard.

Ian was the senior author on 9 papers in peer-reviewed journals and many technical reports. He regularly reviewed for peer-reviewed journals. In addition, he never forgot the importance of getting the message out to the public and wrote many popular articles on cougars; one of international note was published in Natural History magazine. Ian also rewrote the grizzly bear status report for COSEWIC, a meticulous document of current population density and distribution information on grizzlies across Canada. This document has national significance to the conservation the species. Ian made significant contributions to many other research projects through his wildlife capture activities, something he did better than most other biologists, and in doing so assisted many graduate students with their research. Over his career, he captured over 100 cougars, 100 grizzly bears, 800 bighorn sheep, along with countless other black bears, moose, and mountain goats. He conducted his capture work using an exacting professional approach while retaining an empathy for the wildlife he was pursuing.

His capture work was featured on Discovery Channel in a piece that showcased grizzly bears. Ian always had a tremendous positive impact on the projects and the people he worked with. However, the environmental assessment process – endlessly mitigating and judging the significance of cumulative effects, was frustrating to Ian. Such work bound him to a desk and away from the fieldwork and research that he truly loved. He jumped at the chance to participate in the Liakipia Predator Project, a study of large African carnivores in central Kenya designed to find ways to allow for coexistence of hyenas, lions, leopards, and people in the agricultural matrix that exists outside national parks in most of southern Africa. Ian understood that if these predators were to survive in the long run they had to be able to exist outside of the national parks. His time was largely volunteered. Money was never really an issue: He was much more concerned with the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.

Ian Ross worked tirelessly for ACTWS. He served as President-Elect in 1996 and President in 1997. Following his time on the Executive, he served on various conservation and fundraising committees. Ian spent his recreational time in wild places as much as possible. He and Sheri, his wife of 20 years, loved to hike the foothills of the Rockies west of Calgary, as well as far-flung locales, with return visits to the U.S. desert southwest, Canadian Arctic, Belize, and Africa. He loved to hunt elk, deer, and moose for his own table and enjoyed learning to fly fish in mountain lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Yet he vigorously opposed the senseless trophy killing of wolves, bears, and cougars.

Two days before his death Ian was on top of the world having collared his first leopard. Many family members and friends were planning to visit him at the research station and he was busy organizing their visits in August. On the evening he died Ian was tracking a radio-collared lion from a light aircraft. Searchers located its wreckage the next morning. As he wished, Ian was cremated and his ashes dispersed in Kananaskis Country where he had spent so much time with his cougars. Ian Ross died at the peak of his career, doing what he loved.

– David Ross, Martin Jalkotzy and Jon Jorgenson

William (Bill) Wishart

Bill Wishart is a founding father of wildlife management in Alberta. He is a native-born Albertan with the wisdom and wit of a country up-bringing expanded tremendously by many many years in public service dedicated to the conservation and management of wildlife in this province. As a result Bill has a wealth of knowledge about a wide range of wildlife species and enough opinions to make it seem like he has been around for a hundred years. His career spans generations of wildlife and wildlife managers in Alberta. He was instrumental in nearly every aspect of the profession as it is practiced in the province, particularly in the formative years that followed Leopold and the subsequent emergence of wildlife science. Although “retired” since 1987, Bill shares his wisdom with all who listen, particularly folks younger than he and those who will never have an opportunity to see what Bill has seen. His strength, as he sees it, is a willingness to provide ‘intellectual voluntarism’. Generally this translates into mentoring (and heckling) students, current employees of various wildlife agencies, and former colleagues. His favourite topics are white-tailed deer and bighorn sheep, though he readily discusses geese or ducks or any wildlife topic.

Bill is or has been an Adjunct (= unpaid) Professor with the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Alberta, a member of Alberta’s Endangered Species Scientific Subcommittee, as well as reviewer and advisor to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Foundation for North America Wild Sheep and Goats. Unofficially, he is an Emeritus Wildlife Biologist with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, the grandfather of wildlife management in the province, and an Ambassador for all things wild that live in Alberta. He maintains goose nesting baskets at Hasting Lake (an annual interest that started somewhere around about the middle of the last century), gives public presentations on various wildlife topics, and joins in each year for the annual population counts of sharp-tailed grouse on dancing grounds in Camp Wainwright. Bill loves to hunt and, along with his trusty Brittany spaniels, helps to keep the numbers of ring-necked pheasants (a non-native species in Alberta) under control. He also is available at any time to help reduce an abundance of donuts or sweets wherever they may occur.

With regards to ACTWS Bill was a founding member who helped established the chapter. He was there from day one and continues to attend our annual conference, and provide wisdom and guidance to promote our success. Bill’s strength is teaching others both by example and by experience. He is of course a Rowan Award recipient – in fact as an undergrad he was taught by William Rowan. I doubt there has been any chapter executive that did not contain at least a few members who were mentored at some stage of their career by Bill Wishart.

On April 3, 2012 Bill was 80 years young. The Alberta Chapter TWS provided a very special birthday present and renamed the ACTWS Post-Graduate Scholarship as the William (Bill) Wishart Post-Graduate Scholarship.

Kristina Norstrom

Kristina started working with Fish and Wildlife as an Area Biologist in March 2008. She was a consummate biologist and boundless advocate for wildlife, mentally and physically a hard worker, was the first to volunteer for new projects and assist colleagues in her Area and across the province.

Kristina had a thirst for knowledge combined with an astounding ability to  retain everything. She was a wealth of information on a wide range of topics – if she didn’t know a particular answer, she would find the answer before she completed a meeting or conversation – indispensable to our wildlife group! She loved field work and spent many hours conducting wildlife surveys (ungulate surveys, caribou monitoring, amphibians, colonial waterbirds, snowshoe hare transects, sharp-tailed grouse, barred owl) or volunteering with Fisheries colleagues on their sturgeon program and index netting. Provincially, Kristina provided insight and leadership through multiple task groups aimed at developing or improving upon sensitive species guidelines, riparian best management practices, and Forestry ground rules – ensuring that Alberta wildlife had a strong voice in the boreal systems she worked in.

Kristina had just returned from the Western States & Provinces Deer & Elk Workshop in Montana with a few colleagues and was looking forward to being on several provincial game management teams. She took on anything and enjoyed every aspect of her work and life. Much of her personal time was spent enjoying the outdoors – camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring – or working on her acreage. The rest of the time she was reading, constantly learning!

Kristina was a quiet individual but after a few minutes, you easily recognized her abundant qualities and knowledge. She was a gentle and caring person and that combined with her wit and generosity will be greatly missed by her many friends and colleagues.

Rooted in Wisdom: Deer Aging Techniques

Embark on a journey of precision and insight with the Lethbridge College Wildlife Analytics Lab (WAL) at the ACTWS Conference in Jasper! Join our workshop, ‘Rooted in Wisdom: Deer Aging Techniques‘, to explore the secrets hidden within wildlife teeth. Explore both the field technique of ‘tooth eruption and wear’ and the laboratory marvel of ‘cementum analysis’ – both dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of ungulate ages. Delve into the heart of these techniques, comparing their accuracy and precision, with a revelation of the superior accuracy of cementum analysis. Learn the art of tooth extraction and witness the seamless process of submitting your own wildlife teeth to the WAL for aging through cementum analysis. Elevate your understanding of deer populations and contribute to the advancement of wildlife knowledge and bolster your resume with applied experience. Participants will gain hands-on familiarity with the field technique of jaw aging, and the lab process of tooth extraction, inspection, preparation, and cementum analysis. Join us in Jasper for a transformative experience at the intersection of field expertise and cutting-edge laboratory analysis!

Facilitated by the Wildlife Analytics Lab, Lethbridge College

Cost: $15

Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.

In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.