The Bob and Phyllis Mace Watchable Wildlife Chair

In 1979, the late Bob Mace, then deputy director of the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (ODFW), coined the phrase "watchable wildlife" and permanently changed the way many people think of small animals and birds, from robins and raccoons to salamanders and frogs. Until that time, the only term available to describe wildlife not sought after by hunters was "non-game." Mace, a 1942 OSU graduate in fish and wildlife management, felt there should be a more positive term for these species whose appeal to nature lovers and photographers seemed to call for greater respect. Now, "watchable wildlife" has become an almost universal phrase, employed by federal and state agencies and university departments around the country.

Starting in 1997, Mace and his wife Phyllis, a 1943 graduate of OSU's College of Science, made annual gifts to support a faculty position and scholarships in watchable wildlife. Their estate gift expanded that support creating an endowment for the Watchable Wildlife Chair and an annual scholarship fund for students majoring in fish and wildlife. Appointed for a five-year term, the faculty member receives flexible resources to use for research and outreach.

Preceded in death by his wife, Bob Mace passed away in November 2006.

"It does my heart good to know that this endowment and scholarship fund are having a real impact and that they are carrying on our father's legacy," said Richard Mace, who is also an OSU graduate.

W. Douglas Robinson

Doug RobinsonIn January 2011 Doug Robinson became the holder of the Bob and Phyllis Mace Chair of Watchable Wildlife. An avian ecologist, Robinson is an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, where he has spent much of his career studying songbirds and bird habitat.

He hopes to use the endowed position as a catalyst to engage citizens with an interest in wildlife in recording their observations, data, and even photographs to broaden the pool of information available to contemporary and future scientists. He plans to design a certificate program and explore different training options for volunteers. New technologies including global positioning system (GPS) make logging precise locations of wildlife sightings possible for volunteer researchers.

"Imagine how our perspective on, say, bird populations in Oregon might differ if Lewis and Clark had measured abundances 200 years ago," Robinson said. "What if we had records of not just birds, but other wildlife and habitats? This kind of 'citizen science' is not only becoming more popular, it could be quite valuable, especially in measuring how animals respond to potential climate change.

"Certainly there are concerns about the quality of data," he added. "But that is where the Mace professorship can play a role — to provide training for volunteers on how to gather and report information that can be used by scientists over the next several decades."

Robinson has been on the OSU faculty since 2002, after spending four years at Auburn University. He is a 1987 graduate from Southern Illinois University, where he also earned a master's degree in zoology. Robinson went on to get his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Illinois.

 

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