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The Wildlife Society would like to put in the limelight the accopmlishments of not only exceptional members of the chapter, but extrordinary alumni of Texas Tech University. Our society’s success is defined by the achievements of alumni after graduation, and by professional engagement of current students. TTU-TWS alumni understand the importance of hard work, dedication, hands-on experience, and - most importantly - professionalism and a sense of community.
Jim Ray is a native of Dalhart, TX, and completed his BS degree (Range Management [Wildlife Habitat Option]) at Texas Tech in 1987. Following graduate school (MS, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences) at South Dakota State University, Jim returned home and is now a 30-year veteran of the Panhandle and South Plains wildlife management and research community. Jim was the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Regional Migratory Bird and Wetlands Biologist for nine years and has since served as the Wildlife Biologist/Scientist for the 18,000 acre U. S. Department of Energy’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo.
“The fact that I grew up as fisherman, hunter, animal lover, bird watcher, Boy Scout, etc., led to my decision of becoming a wildlife biologist right at the start of my senior year of high school. Always a Texas Tech fan, Texas Tech was an easy choice for me.”
“I always like the TTU-TWS wild game feeds and can recall the comradery between professors and students at what were daylong events back in the day.”
Being a member of TTUTWS --which was the Range and Wildlife Club back then-- activities and guest speakers really opened my eyes to what the profession was all about. Serving as Vice President for two years helped me with my leadership skills. To this day I believe that participation in the TTUTWS is a must for any student seeking a degree through NRM.
Jim was recognized in 2018 as a Texas Tech College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumnus and his work at Pantex earned the U. S. Department of Energy the 2019 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award.
As an educator for the East Foundation, Maria F. “Masi” Mejia, delivers natural resource education to the underserved communities of South Texas. She deploys educational programs on East Foundation lands, and takes the proven L.A.N.D.S. (Learning Across New Dimensions in Science) curriculum of our partner, the Texas Wildlife Association, into schools in Zapata, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Duval, Webb, Dimmit, and La Salle counties.
Masi aims to inform and engage diverse audiences in the importance of wildlife conservation. She currently serves as an the outreach chair for Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society and is member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
Masi received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Conservation of Natural Resources and a Master’s degree in Wildlife, Aquatic, and Wildlands Science and Management from Texas Tech University. While attending Texas Tech University, Masi conducted research on the factors that influence natural resource professionals and students to pursue careers in the field. Additionally, Masi conducted various educational events to inform the public about wildlife, conservation, and our natural resources.
Prior to working with the Foundation, Masi served as a mentor for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Idaho. She has also interned with The Nature Conservancy, Ogallala Commons, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Youth Hunting Program and Texas Brigades. Masi resides in Laredo, Texas.
I chose “environmental conservation of natural resources” now NRM because I wanted to make a difference in wildlife conservation (and one less chemistry than wildlife management). Favorite moment: Maybe attending my first TCTWS meeting in San Antonio, I was the only freshman with a bunch of upperclassmen. Also going camping in Big Bend NP. TTUTWS Influence – Getting to hear from local professionals in the field and opportunities that stemmed from meeting with them and the professors within the department.