Donald Orth, the Thomas Jones Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, has received one of three Making a Difference Awards from the Instream Flow Council.

The award recognizes persistent activities to inform and educate the public about the importance of instream flow – the water flow in a stream and an indicator of the stream’s ecological health – and its benefits to society. This is the first year the council presented awards and opened its annual meeting to the public.

“A lot of what I’ve been able to do was directly related to teaching,” Orth said. “Even though the award recognized a lot of my work on external publications, teaching students, and professionals at workshops and conferences has been a major way to get the information out.”

Orth’s former students serve important roles in instream flow management in over 10 percent of the council’s member agencies. Orth is recognized as one of the first to write independent review evaluations on instream flow methods. He has also written many articles and books about instream flow science and served on the editorial board of Rivers and two of the American Fisheries Society’s journals.

The Instream Flow Council, established in 1998, is an organization comprising fish and wildlife management agencies in the United States and Canada whose goal is to inform the public on instream flow issues, implement effective instream flow protection and restoration programs, and share information among the instream flow community.

Orth has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, and master’s degree and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. His academic interests include instream flow and habitat assessment, fisheries management, stream fish ecology, bioethics, and population dynamics. Orth has also been recognized with awards from Virginia Tech, including the Outstanding Faculty Award in 1998.

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