Washington Chapter

of The Wildlife Society

2022 WA-TWS Board



Matt Wilson

He | Him | His




Yakima, WA

Read Matt's Bio

I began my wildlife career at Utah State University, working with a Master’s student studying effects of salinity on Canada goose development in Utah’s west desert. After completing my B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife, I worked on Nene in Hawaii, Key Deer in Florida, Roosevelt Elk on the Olympic Peninsula, and Mexican Spotted Owls in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. Following my passion for waterfowl, I led waterfowl field crews in the Dakotas and Alaska’s North Slope, before ending up in the San Francisco Bay area to pursue a M.S. at UC Davis, studying Pacific Surf Scoter breeding distribution and fecundity. I have been the Statewide Waterfowl Specialist with WDFW for 4.5 years.

I have been a member of TWS for most of my career. As an undergrad I was an active member in the student chapter at Utah State, helped develop a Quiz Bowl Team, and doubled student participation with frequent outings and an engaged leadership group. Among other officer positions, I served as president my senior year. I believe with my diverse wildlife experience, agency employment history (NPS, FWS, FS etc.) and work with tribes and non-profits, that I bring the experience and desire necessary to prepare TWS WA for the challenging future of wildlife management.

Immediate Past President

Sara Hansen

Associate Wildlife Biologist®

She | Her | Hers



 Spokane, WA

Read Sara's Bio

Originally from Wichita, Kansas (Go Shockers!), Sara has worked throughout the country on over a dozen game and nongame projects for state, federal, and university organizations over the past 20+ years. Her technical background and training is as a spatial population ecologist specializing in carnivore and ungulate movement and population dynamics. She most recently served as the Statewide Deer Specialist for WDFW over the past 8 years.

Sara has been very active in TWS at all levels for 13+ years, including service as a Student Chapter Advisor while in grad school, TWS Leadership Institute alum and mentor since 2014, and various board and committee positions with WA-TWS over the last 8 years. She is currently also serving as the Chapter’s NW Section Representative to help coordinate local and regional support for the upcoming Annual Conference in Spokane.

President Elect

Alex Pavlinovic

He | Him | His




Olympia, WA

Read Alex's Bio

With the goal of becoming wildlife biologist, I have taken part in a number of professional activities. I organized and moderated two special sessions for the Washington Chapter of The Wildlife Society at annual meetings (2018 and 2019). I also served on the Chapter’s Awards Committee for several years. Recently, I was appointed as a board member of the Washington Chapter. To gain valuable research and monitoring experience, I have taken part in over 20 projects, including working for Trout Unlimited, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Cascadia Research Collective, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These projects included working on a variety of taxa from sea lions to beaver. Because of my efforts in assisting fisheries research on the Elwha River Restoration Project, I received the Olympic National Park Youth volunteer of the year award.

Always looking to improve myself, I am hardworking, physically fit, outdoorsy, independent, self-motivated, and passionate about the environment. I am always learning about the natural world, reading scientific literature, taking classes, volunteering in the field, and technical writing. All of these efforts may be the root of slight caffeine addiction.

Currently, I am in my final year as a master’s student in the Master of Environmental Studies program at The Evergreen State College. With the support of Cascadia Research Collective and the Washington Chapter of the Wildlife Society, I conducted my thesis research on a group of gray whales that come into the Puget Sound every year – the “Sounders.” After graduation, I look forward to working in the wildlife field and spending time hiking, backpacking, and boating with my Great Dane, Rosie.

Vice President

George Ritchotte

He | Him | His




Seattle, WA

Read George's Bio

I am a wildlife ecologist with over 30 years of professional experience working for federal, state, and local environmental agencies, including 3 years in the Peace Corps in Madagascar. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology and French at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and my master’s degree in wildlife biology at the University of Montana, in Missoula, MT, where I participated in the University’s Peace Corps Master’s International Program. I am originally from Washington DC but have lived and worked in Seattle for the last 20 years, where I am an ecologist for a local environmental consulting firm.

I am passionate about wildlife conservation and eager to become more active in The Wildlife Society. I am a strong believer in the Washington Chapter’s mission to enhance the ability of wildlife professionals to conserve diversity, sustain productivity, and ensure responsible use of wildlife resources for the benefit of society. Climate change and the biodiversity crisis make our work even more important. Raising awareness of climate change and how our actions as a society within that context affect biodiversity and wildlife conservation are essential to mitigating the harmful effects of global warming.

The Washington Chapter of TWS does great work engaging students and other young professionals in the field of wildlife conservation through meetings, scholarships, and grant funding; the urgency of climate change makes those efforts even more valuable. We are at a crossroads, and it is increasingly important to involve as many people as possible in conservation work, particularly younger people of color and other groups that have traditionally been excluded from the environmental field. As members of a local chapter, we are uniquely positioned to engage in our communities at a local, grassroots level and increase the appeal of our profession to a broader section of the population. Having a more diverse selection of wildlife practitioners will also lead to more diverse solutions to our current crisis. I want to do what I can to maximize our outreach efforts and increasing involvement in the chapter.

When not mulling the finer points of wildlife conservation I try to get outdoors as much as possible to enjoy the amazing landscapes of this great state. My partner and I enjoy backpacking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and paddle boarding, ideally with our two crazy German shorthaired pointers. I try to volunteer at least once a year with Washington Trails Association helping maintain trails in the Cascade Mountains. I also volunteer with Seattle Audubon, where I assist with the Puget Sound Seabird Surveys. When in town I like to brew beer (lately I’ve been on a ginger beer kick), try new restaurants, and grow my own vegetables, no matter how little financial sense that makes.

I am impressed with everything the Washington chapter has accomplished throughout its history and I am excited to contribute to its mission.

Secretary (2022-2024)

Candace Bennett

She | Her | Hers



 Newport, WA

Read Candace's Bio

Hello members! I am pleased to be your Washington Chapter Secretary since 2020. During my time, I have helped to launch our new website and created a monthly WA-TWS Wildlife Webinar Series.

A little about me, I have been a wildlife biologist for more than a decade, predominantly working on human-wildlife conflict and various carnivore centered research projects. On my personal time, I am a professional and published wildlife photographer. I love spending time outdoors with my giant dogs (a Newfoundland and two bloodhounds) or hiking to remote locations all over the world.

Treasurer (2021-2023)

Bruce Thompson

Certified Wildlife Biologist®

He | Him | His



 Marysville, WA

Read Bruce's Bio

- Coming Soon -

Board Members At Large

Board Member 1 (2021-2023)

Merci Clinton

She | Her | Hers



 Seattle, WA

Read Merci's Bio

I am a wildlife biologist and wetland ecologist with over 10 years of experience. My career in biology started at Humboldt State University where I received my BSc in Marine Biology. From there I found a job that took me to the Mojave and Colorado Deserts where I worked with desert flora and fauna, primarily focusing on desert tortoises. I eventually ended up at the University of Saskatchewan to complete my Masters's in Sustainability and Environmental Management where my focus was on shorebird monitoring and environmental outreach. I now reside in Western Washington where I work in a natural resources department specializing in environmental permitting, wetlands, and ESA-listed species.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time outdoors creating a permaculture paradise around my home, foraging, hiking, camping, and spending time with my family.

Board Member 2 (2022-2024)

Kris Ernest

She | Her | Hers



 Ellensburg, WA

Read Kris's Bio

Kristina (Kris) Ernest received her B.S. in Biology from Cornell University (1982), M.S. in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma (1985), and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico (1993). She has been a faculty member in the Biology Department at Central Washington University since 1994, where she has taught Wildlife Ecology, Mammalogy, General Ecology, General Biology, Biomes of the Pacific Northwest, and Field Techniques. Her research spans population and community ecology, plant-herbivore interactions, and road ecology. For the past decade, she and her students (both undergraduate and graduate) have been investigating how American pikas, shrews, bats, deer mice, and other small mammal species respond to highways and wildlife crossing structures for the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project.

In her spare time, Kris enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and birding.

Board Member 3 (2022-2024)

Jen Syrowitz

She | Her | Hers



 Issaquah, WA

Read Jen's Bio

Jen comes to TWS driven to help build an empowered network of diverse users inspired by nature and engaged in natural resource protection. She is passionate about increasing the trust, confidence, and funding for Tribes, agencies, and organizations responsible for public trust resource management. Through reconciliation she works to center Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous-led conservation to improve the quality and outcomes of engagement on sustainability of wildlife resources and human environments. Jen has more than ten years of experience in the field of wildlife conservation, natural resource policy, community outreach and advocacy, and non-profit program management.

She has been a member of and involved with TWS since 2009. Originally hailing from the Canadian Prairies, Jen has a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, a Bachelor of Environmental Studies, and a Master of Environment from the University of Manitoba where she studied greater prairie chickens in northwestern Minnesota.

Outside the office, Jen spends her time in the evergreen mountains, sagebrush plateaus and coastal beaches of Washington state—backpacking, snowshoeing, hunting upland game and harvesting shellfish.

Board Member 4 (2021-2023)

Wendy Arjo

Certified Wildlife Biologist®

She | Her | Hers



 Lacey, WA

Read Wendy's Bio

My name is Wendy Arjo and I am a Certified Wildlife Biologist® and Program Manager for AGEISS Inc. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Montana in Fish and Wildlife Biology (many years ago) working on carnivore biology. Right after graduate school, I started my career with AGEISS as a biologist at U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground working on small mammal, pronghorn, feral horse, kit fox, and coyote projects before joining the USDA National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC). During my time with the NWRC, my research focused on mountain beaver impacts to forest regeneration. I also had the opportunity and pleasure to work as an adjunct professor at Auburn University with Jim Armstrong on raccoon, feral hog, and coyote graduate research projects. The mountain beaver research with NWRC provided additional management tools for the forest industry and also supported the development of the molecular phylogeny of this ancient rodent species. In 2008, I returned to AGEISS where I am currently a Program Manager for five contracts and Project Lead for natural and cultural resources and National Environmental Policy Act projects. My current work supports many Department of Defense installations where I conduct species surveys, habitat restoration, environmental assessments, and the development of Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans.

A list of past WA-TWS Board Members can be found here.

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