York Lecturer Series
1986 York Lecturer Biographical
Dr. Laurence R. Jahn was born in Jefferson, Wisconsin in 1926. He spent his childhood on the family farm, where an appreciation of the land and its resources kindled a lifelong commitment to wildlife conservation. He received academic training in the wildlife management/ecology program at the University of Wisconsin, a program founded in 1939 by Aldo Leopold, the father of modern wildlife management.
He began his professional career in 1949 as a waterfowl biologist for the Wisconsin Conservation Department, now the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Within a decade, the research of Dr. Jahn and his colleagues set the template for waterfowl management strategies, particularly Canada geese, throughout the Mississippi Valley.
In 1959, Dr. Jahn joined The Wildlife Management
Institute as field representative for the north central states. He quickly
established a reputation for efficient and informed handling of conservation
issues and resource management matters throughout the Midwest. His dedicated
efforts carried him to Washington, D.C. in 1970, when he became the Institute's
Director of Conservation.
The accomplishments of Dr. Jahn, whom fellow natural resource professionals call "Our Man in Washington," have been recognized in scientific and political circles. His numerous technical and popular papers cover a diverse array of topics, including waterfowl management, nongame wildlife, habitat management, wildlife refuges, wilderness, wetlands, marshes, estuaries, groundwater resources, riparian issues, water use and management, soil conservation, public and private land management, open space, recreational access, trespass, and liability and conservation law. Perhaps his most notable achievement, however, has been as counsel to natural resource management agencies, professional societies, Congress, and the executive branch.
Dr. Jahn has held numerous posts in professional and natural resource organizations and societies. He has served as president of The Wildlife Society; chairman of the National Watershed Congress; executive member of the National Research Council Board on Agriculture; chairman of the Natural Resources Council of America; chairman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Environmental Advisory Board; chairman of the Conservation/Wildlife Advisory Council for the US Senate Agricultural Subcommittee on Soil and Water Conservation; and chairman of the Fish and Wildlife Task Force of the National Academy of Sciences.
He has also served on numerous boards and advisory committees of the Office of Technology Assessment, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Soil Conservation Society of America, and the US Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, and State.
In 1971, Dr. Jahn earned the distinction of elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1984, he was the first recipient of the Trippensee-McPherson Award, given by The Wildlife Society to mark exceptional achievements in wildlife conservation.
Dr. Jahn and his wife Helen live in Vienna, Virginia. The Jahn children are Catherine M. Cook of Wisconsin, and Richard A. Jahn, a Floridian.
-Biography Originally Compiled November 5, 1986
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