The Kenneth F. Higgins Waterfowl Legacy Research Endowment honors the life and the distinguished career of Dr. Ken Higgins, a former wildlife research biologist with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and a professor emeritus in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at South Dakota State University, who spent most of his career researching prairie and wetland ecosystems throughout the Prairie Pothole Region of North America.
His research led to the development of many innovative techniques for monitoring waterfowl production, using prescribed fire to manage prairie landscapes, and prioritizing landscape-level conservation projects based on wildlife habitat needs. During his career, one of Dr. Higgins’ true strengths was anticipating important research needs that were required to advance the field of wildlife conservation. More importantly, Dr. Higgins significantly touched the lives of the graduate students he mentored during his 20 years at South Dakota State University.
As a mentor, he always encouraged creativity and “thinking outside the box” for wildlife research and conservation. Furthermore, he truly cared, both academically and personally, about the graduate students he advised. His concern for his students’ welfare did not stop when they graduated from SDSU, but it continued well into their professional careers. Dr. Higgins’ former students have carried his passion for wildlife conservation to many state, federal, and private conservation organizations as well as academia.
Dr. Higgins had a long-term goal that he could contribute toward some type of endowment that would provide an annual research/scholarship award to help supplement graduate student research projects, especially those projects with a demonstrated financial need. Ken has always worked and continues to work for wildlife and students alike with a sense of humor, passion, dedication, purpose, and generosity.
The applied wildlife research education provided by Ken’s former professors at Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, and North Dakota state University, and the many habitat and waterfowl managers and research biologists that he worked and associated with in the U.S. and Canada, were responsible for the donor’s interest in applied wildlife research and management with an emphasis on waterfowl and wetlands. Therefore, the endowment is directed toward this type of research. Funds can be used for waterfowl research activities including purchase of field or laboratory equipment; purchase of field or laboratory supplies; travel support for graduate students on an applied research project; for support directed as matching monies to acquire a larger grant to benefit wetland-dependent avian species (e.g., ducks, geese, swans, rails, coots, marsh wrens, etc.).
The endowment will be awarded annually or periodically to help finance a graduate student’s research project that has some potential to enhance the future management or welfare of waterfowl or other wetland-dependent avian species and/or their habitats in South Dakota or other nesting and production habitats (or structures) in North America (first priority). Second priority for fund use shall be directed to research of other migratory avian species that use grasslands or wetlands as production habitats. Third priority for funding will be nesting ecology research of wild populations of resident upland game bird species (e.g., pheasants, quail, partridge, or grouse).
The Kenneth F. Higgins Waterfowl Legacy Research Scholarship will be awarded annually or periodically to help finance a graduate student's research project that has some potential to enhance the future management or welfare of waterfowl species and/or their habitats in South Dakota or other nesting and production habitats (or structures) in North America. On occasion, available funds may be used as matching monies to facilitate funding of a larger wetlands ecology research project for a graduate student of the Natural Resource Management Department or the South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at SDSU.
At minimum, applicants must include at least one faculty or adjunct faculty and the graduate student(s) name. One of the Department or Coop Unit applicants should submit a ONE page study proposal or statement describing the primary focus of the research and a brief statement of need for funding and/or how the funds will be used and where or how any results will be included in a final report or thesis and/or for University credit. Applicants should be prepared to submit a larger detailed project proposal if requested. A committee composed of professional colleagues and/or faculty of the Department or Coop Unit will select or approve the recipient(s) for funding for each year’s research project.
- Applications for funding should be submitted by the advisor of the graduate student.
- The application package should include:
- A ONE page, single-spaced Proposal Summary and financial need statements as described above on white 8 ½ x 11-inch paper.
- Names and titles of the faculty person(s) and graduate student(s) requesting the funds.
- Address, phone numbers and/or email information for each applicant person.
- Submit application to Kate Tvedt
- By mail:
Department of Natural Resource Management
Box 2140B, SNP 138
North Campus Drive
South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD 57007
- By Email
- In Person
- By mail: