I have been an American Fisheries Society and a Southern Division of AFS member since 1991. At that time, I was pursuing my doctoral degree in the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture at Auburn University, and started working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After thirty years, I still enjoy working as a Federal fishery biologist and love having one of the best
jobs in the world. At AFS, I have been involved at both the local and regional levels. For SDAFS, I served as the Associate Editor (Fisheries) for the Proceedings of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). For helping organize the Fisheries sessions of six of SEAFWA’s annual meeting, the SDAFS presented to me their Distinguished Service Award. I have been involved by attending annual meetings and by serving in the Site Selection sub-Committee for the 1996 Spring meeting in Mobile, 2011 annual conference in Tampa and the 2018 meeting in Puerto Rico. At these meetings, I was involved with the Student Career Workshops. I have also served as associate editor and reviewer for a number of scientific publications including the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, Progressive Fish-Culturists, Transactions of AFS, and the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.
What I like about the SDAFS is that it allows the exchange of information between fisheries professional from government, academic, industry, and non-profit groups, and thereby facilitates interactions and a sharing of perspectives on statewide and regional issues for both freshwater and marine environments. I learn a lot and I have made valuable contacts at our annual meetings. The Division does a great job in developing the career of its members, and specially students. My goal as vice-president will be to maintain this type of environment for all chapter members, and encouraging mentoring of students to empower the next generations of fishery professionals. I am excited about the opportunity to serve the Southern Division and expand its membership. I would be honored to have your support of my candidacy for SDAFS Vice President.
My name is Anthony Overton and I currently serve as Department Chair and Professor in the Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama; I am also Director of the Environmental Management graduate program. Prior to arriving at Samford in 2018, I was Professor and Department Chair at Alabama A&M University (2015-2018) and an Associate Professor at East Carolina University (2003-2015).
I completed my BS degree at South Carolina State University, MS at the University of Georgia, and PhD at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. During my career, I have served the American Fisheries Society at many levels. I first joined AFS as a graduate student in 1995, becoming a member of the University of Georgia Student Subunit. While completing my PhD, I helped form the Student Subunit Chapter at the University of Maryland. During my tenure at East Carolina University, I was actively involved with AFS by serving as a Faculty Advisor for the ECU-Student Subunit Chapter; that chapter was twice named the recipient of the Outstanding Student Subunit Award. From 2003-2006, I served as the Committee Chair for the Best Paper Award-Transactions of the American Fisheries Society and served as the Treasurer and Webmaster for the Estuaries Section of AFS. In 2006, I was elected President of the Tidewater Chapter of the AFS. I continued my service to AFS as a Subject Editor (2011-2019) of the AFS Marine and Coastal Fisheries journals. Most recently, I have been active with the Alabama Chapter of AFS and recently served on Special Committee on AFS Fellows Selection Criteria.
Since arriving at Samford University in 2018, I have totally shifted my approach to research and student training. Samford’s graduate program in completely online, meaning there are no graduate students on campus to assist with research. So I have had to direct my efforts toward undergraduate research and training. Directing undergraduates has its challenges, but I have found it to be equally as rewarding as directing graduate student research. I encourage my students to build their portfolios by presenting their research at professional meetings. What has become clear to me is that there is a consistent lack of funding to support undergraduate travel to professional meetings. However, given the advancement in technology and our increased familiarity with distant communication (i.e., Zoom), I propose to develop a platform within the Southern Division of AFS to foster and encourage undergraduate participation in our annual meetings. My vision is to create a symposium at the SDAFS annual meeting for undergraduate students. This would be a hybrid format, so students who could not travel to the meeting could still participate and present their research. This undergraduate symposium would also be an excellent recruiting ground for faculty who are interested in recruiting students to the laboratories.
I am thus very passionate about undergraduate training, and I truly believe that a steady flow of well-trained undergraduate students into fisheries is the only way to ensure the future of our profession. I am also particularly passionate about diversity, communication, and outreach. In an age of growing distrust for science and scientists, it is vital for fisheries scientists to effectively communicate with policy makers, with the public, and with each other. And, while we have made great strides, my vision for SDAFS is both to continue and strengthen our equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts.
I often reflect on my career in fisheries, and I am so grateful for the numerous personal relationships and professional opportunities that AFS has afforded me. I am forever indebted to AFS, and I feel that serving AFS is my way of “giving back” and creating the same opportunities for future fisheries scientists that were afforded to me. I am committed to advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. I humbly solicit your support.