To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. -Theodore Roosevelt

Boone and Crockett Fellow Outstanding Achievement Award

The Boone and Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program supports graduate students in wildlife conservation and related fields through its University Program Fellows Program. The Club’s University Programs offers educational and professional development opportunities that prepare future scientists, decision-makers, and leaders to address the enormous challenges facing wildlife conservation.

In 2019 the Club established the annual Boone and Crockett Fellow Outstanding Achievement Award to recognize a graduate student whose research advances the Club’s mission and informs natural resource management and policy decisions in North America. The award highlights and strengthens the connection between students and the Boone and Crockett Club that supports them. 

The Boone and Crockett Club promotes a system of governance in North America where natural resource policy decisions are informed by strong, credible science. As part of achieving this broad-based goal, the Club has invested considerable resources in its University Programs to generate credible science on important natural resource issues and train future conservation leaders. The success of this important work hinges on the efforts of Boone and Crockett Endowed Professors and other Professional Members within academia to invest in selecting, mentoring and training graduate students. These graduate students in turn devote countless hours to research and education that furthers the Club’s mission and helps the Club be more effective in advocating sound natural resource policy. 

One award will be presented annually to the Fellow judged to have made the most significant contribution to the Boone and Crockett Club through conduct of their graduate research. 


  • Applicants must be Boone and Crockett Club Fellows pursing either M.S. or Ph.D. programs of study for part or all of the 2021 calendar year
  • Applicants shall be in the final stages of graduate research such that the body of work can be satisfactorily judged and interpreted
  • Applicants must have the explicit support of the Boone and Crockett Professor or Professional Member who is advising them in their graduate program

2021 Award Winner - Levi Heffelfinger

Texas A&M University-Kingsville - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute - Ph.D. - 2021
Resource Selection, Habitat Influences on Population Performance, and Body Size Trade-Offs of Cervids in a Nutritionally Variable Environment
Human and climate induced changes on the landscape are a pressing issue for wildlife conservation, particularly as agricultural landscapes continue to change. Little is known about mule deer in the Texas Panhandle as we continue to convert native rangeland to cropland.

Levi grew up with an early influence in wildlife science in southern Arizona. From a young age, he accompanied his dad on wildlife surveys and captures. Being an avid hunter, his appreciation for the outdoors has driven his love for wildlife research. Levi earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and his Master’s degree from University of Nevada, Reno, where he worked with mule deer movement and demographics in the Mojave Desert. Levi’s doctoral work focuses on the influence of fragmented landscapes (energy and agricultural development) on mule deer movement and population performance. In the future, he hopes to work at the interface of management and research of large game animals.

"Being a Boone and Crockett Fellow was the primary reason I accepted my position with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. My time as a Fellow has provided opportunities and memories I will cherish forever. The connections made through the Boone & Crockett Club, coupled with scientific training and communication skills has provided me the opportunity to flourish in the wildlife management field. For that I am eternally grateful and hope I can continue to do justice for the Boone & Crockett Club moving into the future." 

2021 Award Winner - Ellen Pero

University of Montana - PhD - Projected to Graduate 2021
 Integrated ecology of a reintroduction: Missouri elk restoration/ ecology and management of the restored elk population in Missouri
A central component of Montana’s Boone and Crockett program has been a focus on integrating wildlife conservation and land management.​​​​​​​

Growing up, Ellen spent summers on the lake and in the woods of Michigan, developing an eagerness to spend her life working with and for the natural world. She received her bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and her Master’s degree from University of Manitoba, where she studied the behavioral ecology of a threatened ground squirrel. At University of Montana, Ellen is focusing on how elk population dynamics, physiological stress, movement and resource selection, and reproductive behavior interact and progress following reintroduction to a new landscape. Ellen aims to obtain a research biologist position with a state or federal agency where her work can inform wildlife management, conservation, and policy.

"Over these last 4 years as a Boone and Crockett Club Fellow at the University of Montana, I have worked to communicate my research in and outside of peer-reviewed publication. Of five chapters in my dissertation, three are in submission or prepared for submission to peer-reviewed conservation journals (Conservation Science & Practice, Conservation Physiology, and Restoration Ecology). I have additionally applied for and attained multiple scholarships as a way to highlight our work. Non-academic print outlets, including local newspapers (e.g., Daily American Republic) and outdoor magazines (e.g., Missouri Conservationist, The Wildlife Professional) have also featured our research and my participation therein. I have presented at multiple scientific and professional wildlife, ecological, and conservation conferences, including invited presentations at The Wildlife Society’s annual meeting. As a means of outreach, I have also been involved with our local student chapter of The Wildlife Society by sharing my work with up-and-coming students interested in our field." 

2020 Award Winner - Christopher Hansen

University of Montana - Ph.D. - 2021
Conservation Benefits of Sustainable Land Use on Mammal Communities

One of Chris’s projects involves the analysis of over 21,000 BLM grazing allotments in the western U.S. to evaluate trends in grazing patterns and vegetation resources over the past 30 years.

Chris Hansen is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate whose research explores the conservation benefits of sustainable land use on mammal communities, specifically focusing on rangelands and urbanization. Chris obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Truman State University and his Master of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Missouri, where he managed a research project developing a monitoring protocol for ruffed grouse in South Dakota.

Throughout his career, Chris has worked on a wide variety of research projects that included estimating black-backed woodpecker demographics in South Dakota, identifying the influences of wind energy development on sage-grouse in Wyoming, and quantifying the effects of oil and gas development on mule deer in North Dakota. During this time, Chris published 9 peer-reviewed scientific articles and gave multiple presentations at state and national wildlife conferences.

Joshua Millspaugh, Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana, said,“Chris is exactly the type of student we want to attract to our Boone and Crockett University Programs.  He is hard-working, motivated, creative in his research and has a proven ability to work with a broad range of people.  He also has the capacity to bridge the gap between rigorous field studies and the development of effective land management decisions.  His work at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch and along the front range in Montana will help inform our understanding of grazing and big game while simultaneously providing huge dividends for education and outreach.  This award appropriately recognizes his leadership, quality of research, and broader contributions to wildlife and land management.”

2019 Award Winner - Daniel P. Thompson 

Texas A&M University - Ph.D. - Graduated 2020
Evaluating the physiological and behavioral responses of moose to fluctuating environmental temperatures

B&C President, Timothy C. Brady (right) presented Daniel Thompson with a plaque during a luncheon at the Club's 2019 Annual Meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Dan presented his research on the physiological and behavioral responses of moose to fluctuating environmental temperatures to the members in attendance.

My research evaluates how moose respond, both physiologically and behaviorally, to daily and seasonal fluctuations in environmental temperature on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Using internal temperature sensors in moose, I can look at daily and seasonal body temperatures to determine when they may become stressed from warm environmental temperatures. Using captive moose, I will evaluate how individual moose respond physiologically to warm environmental temperatures by using novel techniques such as heart rate belts, salivary and fecal stress hormone levels, and forward looking infrared thermal images. With wild moose, I will evaluate behavioral responses to warm environmental temperatures by using GPS collars to determine habitat selection and activity. Understanding habitat selection of moose for both thermoregulation and habitat quality will allow wildlife managers to identify areas that can provide both thermal relief and adequate forage for moose during seasonally warm temperatures when planning habitat improvements for these populations.

Boone and Crockett Club President Timothy C. Brady said, " On behalf of the Boone and Crockett Club and its University Programs Committee, I'd like to congratulate you on being awarded the first Boone and Crockett Fellow Outstanding Achievement Award in Graduate Research. Your work evaluating the physiological and behavioral responses of moose to changing temperatures is an excellent example of research that brings meaning and understanding to the Club's mission and strategic vision. Your role with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game demonstrates your ability to lead in research that will make a difference to management of landscapes for big game."




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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt