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ASU biologist chosen as 'Educator of the Year'

December 07, 2009

David E. Brown, a faculty associate in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, has been chosen to receive Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Commission Award for “Educator of the Year.”

The Commission awards were instituted in 1991, developed to “publically and formally recognize members of the community who are active in conservation of Arizona’s wildlife as volunteers, mentors and educators,” according to Marty Fabritz, executive staff assistant to the director of Arizona Game and Fish and ASU wildlife biology program alumnus, Larry Voyles. “The public is so involved with Arizona wildlife that we wanted to recognize that passion,” Fabritz says.

Fabritz notes that Brown’s name was submitted in not just one, but four of 13 award categories including Writer of the Year, Conservationist of the Year and Mentor of the Year.

Brown formally joined ASU in 1989, after he retired from a 27-year career at Arizona Game and Fish Department. He’s taught a range of courses including Techniques in Wildlife Conservation, Conservation Biology of Terrestrial Wildlife, Field Zoology and Biogeography. In an era when field biology courses routinely disappear from American universities, Brown has packed his bag and taken classes on the road, giving students a chance to learn field techniques – from mist netting bats to seining fish – in the field. Brown also team taught the graduate course Popular Science Writing with ASU professor emeritus John Alcock for nearly 15 years. Many of his students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have gone on to work for Arizona Fish and Game Department, as well as the U.S. Forest Service.

“Dave guides his students with real warmth, evoking appreciation for his company as well as his literary advice," Alcock says.

Brown has authored or edited more than 18 books. His books include an account of the grizzly bear’s extinction in the Southwest (“The Last Grizzly”), a review of the writings of the conservationist Aldo Leopold (“Aldo Leopold’s Southwest”) and a series on “Arizona Wildlife.” His most recent publication, “The Travails of Two Woodpeckers,” explains why two of the largest woodpeckers in the world went extinct in the 20th century.  In addition to professional journal articles about his research, Brown also has authored scores of articles for the public that have appeared in the Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, Arizona Hunter and other local magazines and newsletters, including Pronghorn (published by the Arizona Wildlife Foundation) and Wildlife Views (published by the Arizona Game and Fish Department). He also helped launch a School of Life Sciences’ newsletter in 2005.

Brown is the president and director of the Arizona Antelope Foundation and an elected fellow of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences. In addition to being selected as “Educator of the Year,” he has been chosen as the “Wildlife Conservationist of the Year” by the Arizona Wildlife Federation and awarded a Maytag Professorship by ASU, the Thomas E. McCullough Award for a career of professional wildlife conservation achievement by the Arizona Wildlife Federation, and the W. Frank Blair Eminent Naturalist Award by the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. In 2002, Brown was inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame.
The Arizona Game and Fish awards ceremony will be Jan. 16, in conjunction with the “Meet the Commission” gathering, a public town hall-style event at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Peoria, 2532 W. Peoria Ave. Arizona residents will have a chance to meet with the commissioners and the award winners. For more information, visit