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John E. McDonald

M.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Science, 1993

John E. McDonald earned an M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science at Penn State in 1993. His graduate thesis, “Characteristics of Ruffed Grouse Drumming Sites and Habitat Use by Male Ruffed Grouse at State Game Lands 176, Pennsylvania,” examined the structural attributes and intensity of use by male ruffed grouse of different habitats. John earned a Ph.D. in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1998 where he conducted work on black bear ecology in western Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree, a B.S. in Forest Resource Management, was completed at Virginia Tech. 
     John joined the faculty of the Department of Environmental Science at Westfield State University in 2012 as an assistant professor. He has conducted research on the management of black bears, white-tailed deer, moose, Canada lynx, ruffed grouse, and beavers, and management of northeastern forests for wildlife and alternative energy development and its effects on wildlife habitat. His recent research includes the wildlife community response to the Long Island Solar Farm. At Westfield, John teaches Natural Resource Conservation and Management; Wildlife Conservation and Management; Wildlife Biology; Environmental Legislation; and Natural History and Field Techniques. In addition to his teaching and research, John has served as department chair and was promoted to associate professor in 2016. 
     John also annually organizes and leads, since 2009, a two-week Northeast Wildlife Field Course for students in college wildlife programs each May in Vermont in collaboration with the Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Castleton University. Several Penn State students have attended and benefited from this summer experience. 
     For nine years (2003-2012) prior to joining Westfield, John worked as a wildlife research specialist in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Hadley, MA. His chief responsibility was to administer about $30 million per year in grants for wildlife research, surveys, and habitat management to states in the 13-state USFWS Northeast Region.
     Before the USFWS job, John was employed as the deer and moose project leader by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In this capacity he was responsible for developing statewide deer management recommendations, collecting biological data on harvested white-tailed deer to model populations in each management unit, working with towns and cities to resolve human-deer conflicts, initiating and coordinating research on white-tailed deer and moose, presenting regulatory proposals to agency management and the Fish and Wildlife Board, responding to agricultural complaints and urban wildlife issues, and inspecting captive deer facilities. 
     In recognition of his commitment and contributions to the profession of wildlife management, John was nominated and elected vice president of The Wildlife Society (TWS) for 2015-16, president-elect for 2016-17, and president for 2017-18. TWS is the international organization of professional wildlife biologists and ecologists committed to addressing national and international issues that affect the current and future status of wildlife in North America and throughout the world. John’s vision for TWS is to increase its visibility and gain wider public recognition for the organization as the experts in wildlife science. 
     Since 2001, Dr. McDonald has served as associate editor for Ursus, the journal of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. John also continues to work as associate editor of the Journal of Wildlife Management and as associate editor of the Wildlife Society Bulletin. John was one of the invited plenary speakers at the 2016 TWS national conference in Raleigh, NC, addressing questions of sustainability in the session, “Is Sustainable Use of Wildlife Sustainable?” John also is a member of TWS’ The 1,000. These are individuals who are leading by example to preserve the heritage of TWS and create a brighter future that ensures that TWS is the voice of wildlife science, management, and conservation for generations to come. 
     In 2014 John was the recipient of the John Pearce Award, given by the Northeast Section of TWS for outstanding professional accomplishments in wildlife conservation in the Northeast. In 2006 John was recognized by the TWS as a Fellow. This award recognizes TWS members who have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to the wildlife profession. Fellows are appointed for life and serve as TWS ambassadors and are encouraged to engage in outreach and other activities that will benefit and promote both TWS and the wildlife profession. Also, in 2006-2007 John was selected for a Bullard Scholar Fellowship in Forest Conservation at the Harvard Forest. Bullard Fellowships are awarded to individuals in mid-career who have established themselves in academia, public service, or in the private sector and whose projects show promise of important contributions to forestry and forest studies. 
     In addition to his professional work activities, John is active in his community. For example, since 2014 John has served as chairman of the Worthington School Committee, Worthington, MA. The Worthington Public School District was a brand new district in Massachusetts and the culmination of almost five years of effort on the part of the town to bring free, public education back to the community, continuing a 240-year tradition of local education. The school committee is the legal authority responsible for overseeing the operation of the district. John was elected as the first chairman of the new committee.
     John got his real start in the outdoors when his family moved to Lopez, in Sullivan County, when he was 15. There he was free to roam thousands of acres of what became State Game Lands 13 and spent most of his free time in those woods year-round hunting, fishing, trapping, and learning. Eventually he realized there was an actual career to be had pursuing his interest in wildlife and their habitats, and was able to put himself on that path. He has been fortunate to have been supported along the way by numerous kind and generous friends and mentors, many of them with links to Penn State. No one has been more supportive (and indulgent) of his love of the outdoors than his wife and partner, Gretchen.