Research Endowments

The Department has been most successful in obtaining small donations, rather than finding a donor capable of and interested in a very large donation. Please use the links below to read further information on each of these seven endowments, which are listed in chronological order of endowment.

Clifford H. Fiscus Speaker Endowment

Clifford H. Fiscus (B.S. 1950) was a long-time friend of the department. In 2004, he provided an endowment to the department that is used to bring guest speakers to campus. Mr. Fiscus was born on March 16, 1924 in Yankton, South Dakota and graduated from Armour High School. At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific as a Pharmacist's Mate. After the war, he attended South Dakota State College, earning a Bachelor Degree in Wildlife Management in 1950. 

Cliff's professional career included working in Alaska with the US Geodetic Survey, where he joined the US Marine Mammal Biological Lab and became director of his department. He conducted research on marine wildlife, specializing in the migratory habits of fur seals from the California coast to the Bering Sea. Cliff retired in 1980 after 30 years of federal service.

The program shall be used as follows:

  • To bring outside speakers to the SDSU campus to provide depth and expertise to classroom instruction in the Department of Natural Resource Management.
  • To provide partial funding for Natural Resource Management departmental faculty to speak at international conferences.
Jesse W. West Fisheries Research Endowment

The Jesse W. West Research Endowment is intimately tied to the Pond Boss magazine and forum. It honors the life of Jesse W. West, a Mississippian and professor of geology. While teaching geology “summer camp” in the west, including Colorado, California and the Black Hills (one of his favorite geologic places), he developed a love of the area and its people, which he shared with his family. His interest in lands and waters and all they provided led to many trips with his family to study and behold the Earth’s majesty through fishing and hunting. He often encouraged and reminded others, as did Winston Churchill, that “we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” His strong belief in helping others along their journey in applied science is the cornerstone of Jesse's endowment.
 
The endowment was initiated by a donation from Jesse's son, Eric West. Since that time, Pond Boss members have donated individually and through the proceeds from the silent auction at the annual conference. The interest on the endowment is used to fund worthy projects:

  • 2007 award - used to purchase viewing tanks to study walleye and smallmouth bass feeding interactions.
  • 2008 award - used to help study a potential nonlethal technique for distinguishing fish food habits from fin clips, rather than from muscle samples.
  • 2009 award - used to study fingerling stocking rates for largemouth bass in South Dakota ponds.
Kenneth F. Higgins Waterfowl Legacy Research Endowment

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 SDSU.

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, SDSU and NDSU, 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).

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

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 adviser of the graduate student. The application package should include:

  1. A ONE page, single-spaced Proposal Summary and financial need statements as described above on white 8 ½ x 11-inch paper.
  2. Names and titles of the faculty person(s) and graduate student(s) requesting the funds.
  3. Address, phone numbers and/or email information for each applicant person.

Submit application to Katie Tvedt

  • Department of Natural Resource Management
    Box 2140B, SNP 138
    North Campus Drive
    South Dakota State University
    Brookings, SD 57007

Endowment Recipients

Curtis M. Twedt Upland Game Research Endowment

Curtis M. Twedt, a native of Volga, SD, graduated in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences in 1959. He then earned an M.S. in 1961, with his thesis entitled Fall Food Habits of the Merriam's Wild Turkey in Western South Dakota. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974 with a dissertation entitled "Characteristics of Sharp-Tailed Grouse Display Grounds in the Nebraska Sandhills." Dr. Twedt enjoyed a 31-year career with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as an upland game and research biologist. Along the way, he developed a deep interest in Native peoples.

Dr. Twedt established a research endowment for work on the greater prairie chicken, sharp-tailed grouse and other upland game birds in South Dakota or adjacent states. The recipient of the Twedt research grant shall be selected by the Department of Natural Resource Management at SDSU. The long-term vision of the Department is to eventually be able to provide a graduate research assistantship from this endowment.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

An advisory committee composed of the Department Head of the Natural Resource Management Department (or his/her designate), and four designated faculty members from the Department of Natural Resource Management, will determine selection of the research project(s) to receive funding and subsequent disbursement of funds, which can occur at any time there are funds in the income portion of the Endowment.

The preferred use of these funds is to support prairie grouse research, but also can be used for other upland game bird and upland habitat research activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Purchase of field or laboratory equipment and supplies.
  • Travel support for graduate students on an applied research project.
  • To supplement a graduate student's stipend when it had legitimate insufficient funding.
  • To help with the provisions of needed technician assistance.

Application for funding should be submitted by the adviser of the graduate student. The application package should include:

  • A 2-3 page, single-spaced proposal summarizing the project and the financial need.
  • Names and titles of the faculty person(s) and graduate student(s) requesting the funds.
  • Address, phone numbers and/or email contact information for each applicant.

Mail or email to: Dr. Kent Jensen
Department of Natural Resource Management
Box 2140B, SNP 138
North Campus Drive
South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD 57007

Pheasants Forever Upland Game Bird Research Endowment

This endowment honors the efforts of the Brookings County Pheasant Restoration Association and the Brookings County chapter of Pheasants Forever to encourage activities to advance proper habitat management for the benefit of ring-neck pheasants and other upland game bird species in South Dakota. An initial donation of $25,000 established the principal for this endowment.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

An advisory committee composed of the Department Head of the Natural Resource Management Department (or his/her designate) and four designated faculty members from the Department of Natural Resource Management will determine selection of the research project(s) to receive funding and subsequent disbursement of funds, which can occur at any time there are funds in the income portion of the Endowment.

The preferred use of these funds is to support pheasant research, but also can be used for other upland game bird and upland habitat research activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Purchase of field or laboratory equipment and supplies.
  • Travel support for graduate students on an applied research project.
  • To supplement a graduate student's stipend when it had legitimate insufficient funding.
  • To help with the provisions of needed technician assistance.
  • To support directed matching monies to acquire a larger grant to benefit upland game birds and upland habitats.

Application for funding should be submitted by the adviser of the graduate student. The application package should include:

  • A 2-3 page, single-spaced proposal summarizing the project and the financial need.
  • Names and titles of the faculty person(s) and graduate student(s) requesting the funds.
  • Address, phone numbers and/or email contact information for each applicant.

Mail, deliver or email to: Dr. Kent Jensen
Department of Natural Resource Management
Box 2140B, SNP 138
North Campus Drive
South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD 57007

Clifford H. Fiscus Waterfowl Research Endowment

Clifford H. Fiscus, Jr. was born on March 16, 1924 in Yankton, South Dakota to the late Clifford H. Fiscus, Sr. and Edna Murphy Fiscus. He grew up in Armour, SD where he graduated from Armour High School. At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific as a Pharmacist's Mate. After the war, he attended South Dakota State College, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Management in 1950.

After graduation, Cliff took a job with the U.S. Geodetic Survey in 1951, working in Alaska to map the northern coastline until 1954. Cliff then worked for the U.S. Fisheries Service from 1955-1957 surveying salmon in various Alaska rivers. In 1958, he joined the U.S. Marine Mammal Biological Lab (now part of NOAA) where he rose to become director of Pinniped research. He conducted field surveys from the Bering Sea to the California coast, often spending months at sea or on remote islands. He published dozens of research papers on migratory habits of seals and sea lions. He studied the hunting practices of native peoples as well as those of Russian and Japanese fur sealers. He worked with scientists from around the world to protect the fur seal population, one of the most endangered species on the Pacific Rim.

Cliff met his future wife, Virginia Coleman, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where they worked together. She was a scientific illustrator who shared Cliff's love of nature and the outdoors. Cliff's hobbies included collecting history books, stamps and Native American art. He donated much of his art collection to the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, WA. Cliff was a life-long birding enthusiast and kept records of his sightings since he was a boy.

Cliff retired in 1980 after 30 years of federal service. In retirement, Cliff and Virginia enjoyed traveling, camping, fishing and bird hunting with their beloved Brittany spaniels. Cliff continued to contribute to scientific articles, sharing his extensive knowledge with other scientists throughout the world. Cliff passed away in Seattle at the age of 88 having lived for many years, as he said, "on bonus time."

The Fiscus Waterfowl Research Endowment fund shall provide support for waterfowl research activities in the Department of Natural Resource Management that have the potential to enhance the future management or welfare of waterfowl or other wetland dependent avian species and/or their habitats. This support may include:

Supplements for graduate student support, including stipend, signing bonus or travel Purchase of field or laboratory equipment and supplies Funds for graduate student research projects Support for research project personnel not funded by other sources Support directed as matching monies to acquire grants Other related needs as deemed appropriate.

Dave Willis Fisheries Research Endowment

The Dave Willis Fisheries Research Endowment was established to honor Dr. Willis' life work and to sustain his legacy through promoting excellence in fisheries education and research.

Dr. Willis (1955-2014) was a Distinguished Professor of Fisheries Science and Department Head of Natural Resource Management at South Dakota State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of North Dakota and his Ph.D. from Colorado State University. Over the course of his post-graduate career, he worked as a fishery research biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and taught at Pittsburg State University and Emporia State University before joining the faculty of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at South Dakota State University.

Dave was internationally known as a fisheries scientist and educator. Dave's published works, totaling more than 250 papers in the scientific literature, vastly improved understanding of fisheries science and education, conservation and natural resource management in many ways. Dave's contributions to fisheries education, through his tireless efforts to produce textbooks such as: Fisheries Techniques, Case Studies in Fisheries Conservation and Management, Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes, Small Impoundment Management in North America and Introduction to Wildlife and Fisheries: An Integrated Approach, have shaped the education of an entire generation of scientists. Dave's mentoring of more than 50 graduate students and countless undergraduate students enabled them to become leaders themselves in fisheries management and education throughout North America and abroad.

Dave was a recipient of numerous awards that recognized his top-level achievements. These included national recognition for the President's Fishery Conservation Award, Excellence in Fisheries Education Award, Excellence in Public Outreach Award, Distinguished Service Award, Meritorious Service Award and equally important SDSU awards for Excellence in Teaching, Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring and Excellence in Academic Department Leadership. He was particularly proud, yet humbled, for his election to the national Fisheries Management Hall of Excellence that recognized his life-long work. Although he felt it was somewhat embarrassing to be recognized by his peers, they were the very people who nominated and elected him for that prestigious honor. When pressed with the question of what mean the most to him, he was most proud of the 90 plus competitive awards received by his students.

Dave's attentive and caring nature made him an outstanding leader, mentor, teacher, colleague and friend to an extraordinary number of people in the fisheries profession and well beyond. Dave's life will continue to be an inspiration for all those he touched and encouraged, for students and the pursuit of knowledge, for service to the natural resources of this beautiful land and for those who will benefit from his life's work for years to come. Dave's exceptional personal and career contributions have greatly benefited fisheries education, fisheries science and fisheries management in the Midwest and throughout North America and the world.

We encourage and appreciate your support of Dave's legacy through a donation to support the growth of the Dave Willis Fisheries Research Endowment. Gift pledges can be made over multiple years or as single donations. Proceeds will be used to provide competitive research awards to graduate and undergraduate fisheries students who have demonstrated scholarly excellence in fisheries science and best personify Dave's exceptional career and service to our nation's natural resources.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

The recipient of this annual award shall:

  • Be a current fisheries graduate student in good academic standing within the Department of Natural Resource Management at SDSU.
  • Be involved in, or have immediate plans to commence a study focused in fish or fisheries research.

Application requirements will include:

  • Statement of research interest and career goals.
  • A two page, single-spaced proposal (introduction, objective(s), methods, budget and justification, and pertinent references) for use of funds.
  • Brief curriculum vitae.
  • Letter of support from the thesis or major adviser.
  • Contact information for two references not on the student's committee.

 

Preference shall be given to applicants who:

  • Are actively involved in the American Fisheries Society.
  • Are actively involved with organizations that are focused on environmental conservation issues.
  • Have demonstrated leadership in organizations that provide community service.

Printed application packages will be due by 31 March each year to the Department of Natural Resource Management main office. The recipient shall be selected by the Department of Natural Resource Management Scholarship Committee and will receive the award at the Department's annual spring awards banquet.

Endowment Recipients

  • 2015 - David Schumann
  • 2016 - Dan Nelson
  • 2017 - Nicholas Kludt

Our long-term goal is to be able to support graduate research assistantships, or even endowed professorships, from these funds. The principal is maintained by the SDSU Foundation and we expend only the annual proceeds from those investments.

For further information contact:
Dr. Michele Dudash, Department Head
Department of Natural Resource Management
South Dakota State University
SNP 138, Box 2140B
Brookings, SD 57007
605-688-6121
Fax: 605-688-4515

Tax-deductible donations to these Endowments can be made through the South Dakota State University Foundation.

Contact information:

Lucy Forman, VP for Donor Relations
SDSU Foundation
815 Medary Avenue, Box 525
Brookings, SD 57007
605-697-7475
Toll-Free: 1-888-747-7378
Fax: 605-697-5641