W. Alan Wentz, PhD, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biological conservation from Ohio State in 1969 and is a 1999 recipient of CFAES’ Distinguished Alumni Award, was recognized with the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award for distinguished service to wildlife conservation in Reno, Nevada, on Oct. 1 at the joint meeting of The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society.
‘The only thing I wanted to do for my career’
The Aldo Leopold Memorial Award, first given in 1950, is the highest award given for service in wildlife conservation and is given to one person each year.
“I am honored and humbled by this award,” Wentz said. “Growing up exploring the outdoors in Hardin County and other parts of Ohio made me curious to learn more. The Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot County was one of my favorite places due to the diversity of wildlife, especially waterfowl, found there and when I learned you could study wildlife conservation in college, I knew that was the only thing I wanted to do for my career.
“I have been extraordinarily lucky to have held important positions in the wildlife field and worked with leaders at the national and international levels. None of that would have been possible without the support of my family, the excellent training I received in Kenton City Schools and the Ohio State University and from people who mentored me as a kid and in the positions I have held.”
‘Major force’ in conservation efforts
In his long and notable career, Wentz served as a professor of wildlife sciences at South Dakota State University; director of fisheries and wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C.; and assistant secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He spent the final 20 years of his career as chief conservation officer of Ducks Unlimited.
“Congratulations to Dr. Wentz on receiving this award,” said DU Chief Operating Officer Nick Wiley. “His tremendous accomplishments in the conservation arena place him in rarefied air with previous recipients of this most prestigious conservation award. Throughout his 20 years with Ducks Unlimited, Dr. Wentz was a major force for elevating and expanding conservation programs and delivering on DU’s vision of filling the skies with waterfowl. A brief glance at A Sand County Almanac with all the references to ducks, geese, and migrating birds will confirm that Aldo Leopold himself would surely approve of Dr. Wentz receiving this award.”
Roots in Kenton, Ohio
Wentz graduated from Kenton Senior High School in 1965; was inducted into the Kenton City Schools Hall of Fame in May 2018; and, in addition to his 1999 CFAES alumni honor, was elected to the register of distinguished graduates of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University in 2010.
He has received numerous other awards and recognitions in his profession over the past 40 years. Wentz also served as president of The Wildlife Society in 1992–1993 and has been a board member and chairman of the board for numerous nonprofit conservation organizations.
(Press release and photo by Ducks Unlimited.)