Hannibal Bolton receives American Fisheries Society award for promoting diversity in fisheries

Will Hehemann School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences


Hannibal Bolton accepts the Emmeline Moore Prize from American Fisheries Society president Joe Margraf. (Photo credit: American Fisheries Society)

Hannibal Bolton, a 1971 alumnus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), was recently awarded the Emmeline Moore Prize at the 2017 American Fisheries Society (AFS) annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.

The award recognizes the efforts of an individual society member who has demonstrated exemplary service to the cause of equal opportunity of access to higher education in fisheries and professional development in any of the disciplines of fisheries science or management. The award is named after Emmeline Moore, the first female president of the society, who served from 1927 to 1928.

A native of Crawfordsville, Arkansas, Bolton was the first member of his family to graduate from college when he received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UAPB. In 1972, he started his 45-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

According to the AFS, Bolton recruited a generation of African-American professionals to leadership positions in the FWS. As president of the endowment fund for UAPB and adviser for the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries, he recruited dozens of African-American students into private, state and federal fisheries programs.

Douglas Austen, executive director of the AFS, said ensuring equal access to opportunities is a critical issue in the fisheries industry that reflects the challenges and opportunities of modern society. The profession should ensure that opportunities are available to everyone – regardless of ethnicity or gender – so that young people of all backgrounds can see themselves as fisheries, wildlife or natural resources professionals, he said.

“Hannibal was a role model in this effort because he rose to a high and very visible level in a key federal agency,” Austen said. “People respected him for his competency, professionalism, engaging personality and ability to show others of any background that they can be successful, make significant contributions, have a meaningful career and live a fulfilling life as a fisheries professional.”

Bolton is the third person associated with UAPB to receive the Emmeline Moore Prize. Dr. Mamie Parker, a UAPB alumna, received the award in 2017, and Dr. Steve Lochmann, professor of aquaculture and fisheries at UAPB, received it in 2013.

“I’m not aware of any one institution that has had so many winners of any AFS award,” Austen said. “This highlights UAPB’s character as an institution that fully embraces the mission of being open and equally available to people of all backgrounds, which results in graduates who make a difference in all walks of life. UAPB takes people from all backgrounds and gives them the tools, training, moral character and support to be successful.”

Austen said the three award winners with ties to UAPB validate the argument that diversity – in addition to the fundamental moral obligation of equality – also makes good business sense.

“These people have added tremendous value to the institutions that employed them and rose to be among the agencies’ leaders,” he said. “They were seen as people who made the agencies successful and were valued because of that ability. Their contributions help others knock down barriers, create new opportunities and encourage all institutions to work even more energetically to ensure their leaders, employees and partners embrace diversity as a core component of who they are now and in the future.”

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