2017 OREGON CHAPTER 53rd ANNUAL MEETING
Casting a Broader Net: Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Fisheries Profession
Bend, Oregon February 28 – March 3, 2017
Don Ratliff, Retired Fisheries Biologist
Don was born in Bend, where his Grandfather, George Conklin was an Engineer for Shevlin-Hixon, the Timber Company that built Bend’s first saw mill. He grew up in the Willamette Valley, attended OSU, and graduated in Fisheries Science in 1970.
From April 1971 until his retirement in July 2014, he worked as a Fisheries Biologist for Portland General Electric at the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project on the Deschutes River west of Madras. In the mid-1980s, Don conducted early studies on bull trout in the Metolius Basin, and in 1992 co-authored (with Phil Howell) the population status paper for bull trout in Oregon that prompted protective efforts. In more recent years, he worked on the reintroduction program for salmon and steelhead into the middle Deschutes, and anadromous fish passage at the hydro dams.
In welcoming ORAFS members to the Deschutes Basin, Don will present an illustrated overview of what is known about the basin’s geologic history, and how this has resulted in the present mosaic of habitats and associated distributions and life histories of salmon, steelhead, trout, and char populations. Don was active in ORAFS throughout his career, serving as President in 1983, receiving the Fishery Worker of the Year Award in 1992, and the Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Don has been a life-long angler and fish advocate. He and his wife Marti continue to live near Madras.
Dr. Melanie Okoro, Water Quality Specialist/Regional AIS Coordinator, NOAA West Coast Region
Dr. Melanie Okoro earned her doctorate in environmental science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC; 2006-2011). She moved to California in 2009 to become an environmental scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she currently serves as the Water Quality Specialist and Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator.
Dr. Okoro’s research interest focuses on water quality impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species. She is also interested in the intersection of science and policy. She has numerous research publications, most recently published article in American Scientist. She also published in the Journal of American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), Biogeochemistry, Ecological Engineering and Land use Policy; she has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Estuaries 2015 second edition.
Her scholarly work includes an elected position as Early Career Scientist council member on the Council of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2013-2016); the largest Earth and space science organization in the world. She also serves as a board member on the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN); an organization dedicated to career development, peer mentoring and community building for women in the geosciences.
Her work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach media includes guest interviews on NPR KQED, Google Science Fair, KSHU radio discussing her child hood growing up as a fisherwoman and KQED QUEST discussing impacts of climate change to endangered species, numerous mentoring/judging opportunists for the Science for Society Broadcom Masters Science Fair competition, and speaking engagements to K-12, undergraduates, and post-secondary students.
Her passions include mentoring youth as a former Big Sister in the San Francisco Bay Big Brothers Big Sister Program, and being an advocate for increasing diversity in STEM fields through her involvement with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Davis, California Chapter, Sister Mentors, Minorities Pursuing Higher Degrees in Earth System Science (MS PHD’S), and the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP). Melanie is a thought leader on the topic of broadening participation and increasing diversity and inclusion and recently discussed this topic in an article titled, “How to Recruit and Retain Underrepresented Minorities” in the May 2016 issue of American Scientist.
Dr. Okoro will discuss her work in support of initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion across various sectors; working with non-profits, academic institutions, and federal agencies. She will share her personal perspective as a scientist; mentee and mentor in near-peer mentorship programs, and discuss successful programs, models, and best practices that successfully broaden participation within the wider scientific community. She will also discuss her thoughts on how to move these initiatives forward within the fisheries community: by using a targeted approach and science communication to cultivate consistent dialogue and build community trust.
Quote: “My goal is to reach those who most need to see themselves in science, and as scientists: those who have been traditionally underserved by science”.