UAPB graduate student receives award to attend American Fisheries Society national meeting

Will Hehemann School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

kyler_hecke_afs_skinner_award2Kyler Hecke, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was recently presented the John E. Skinner Memorial Award by the American Fisheries Society (AFS). The monetary travel award enabled Hecke to attend the annual AFS meeting, which was held this year in Kansas City, Missouri, Aug. 21-25.

According to the AFS, the John E. Skinner Award is intended for deserving graduate students or exceptional undergraduate students active in fisheries or related aquatic disciplines. Awardees are chosen by an AFS committee based on academic qualifications, professional service and reasons for attending the 2016 meeting. In addition to receiving travel funds to the annual meeting, awardees also receive a one-year paid membership to the AFS.

“Kyler was a deserving recipient of the John E. Skinner Memorial Award based on the energy and enthusiasm he brings to his graduate studies, research and community service,” said Dr. Steve Lochmann, professor of aquaculture and fisheries at UAPB and former president of the Arkansas Chapter and Southern Division of AFS. “He has been involved in leadership positions for the UAPB-AFS Student Subunit for several years. His participation in the national meeting allows him to better see the full breadth and scope of the AFS and helps guarantee his continued involvement at higher levels in our society.”

After receiving the award, Hecke said he felt a sense of honor and appreciation for Dr. Lochmann, his advisor, the UAPB Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries and the university as a whole.

“My experience at the AFS national meeting was amazing,” he said. “What I took away from the meeting were relationships with colleagues and peers that will last a lifetime. My participation and membership benefited my educational and professional career by giving me the chance to network with other fisheries professionals for future collaboration on research projects as well as future career opportunities.”

Hecke, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), began his graduate studies at the UAPB Aquaculture/Fisheries Center of Excellence in 2014. He is currently working on a project funded by the State Wildlife Grant Program to determine the distribution and status of the Strawberry Darter, a fish species native to Arkansas.

“Kyler has excelled in his research concerning one of the species in greatest need of conservation in our state,” Dr. Lochmann said. “He has spent the last two summers in northern Arkansas, supervising a small field crew and traversing the Strawberry River and its tributaries to examine the distribution of the fish. He has presented his analysis of distribution of Strawberry Darters at state and regional fisheries conferences, where it was well received by academic and industry leaders.”

In addition to his role as president of the AFS Student Subunit at UAPB, Hecke served as the vice president for the AFS Student Subunits both at UAPB and UALR. He has also contributed to numerous volunteer projects for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, including coordinating youth fishing derbies and sampling for various fish species native to Arkansas, Dr. Lochmann said.

The AFS is composed of over 9,000 members worldwide, including aquaculturists, biologists, ecologists, economists, engineers, fisheries managers, geneticists and social scientists.

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