Fisheries and wildlife sciences student receives Outstanding Student Achievement Award

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 10, 2010 – Ryan McManamay of Blacksburg, Va., a doctoral student in fisheries and wildlife sciences at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, is the Ph.D. recipient of the 2009 Jimmie Pigg Memorial Outstanding Student Achievement Award.

Named in honor of the longtime supporter of student activities, the award recognizes university students who are outstanding in research, education, and professional endeavors; it was created by the Warmwater Streams Committee, a technical committee within the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society.

“I am very honored to receive this award, especially considering the person the award is named for. I never had the pleasure of meeting Jimmie Pigg, but from what I understand, he was an incredible person who graciously educated students about conservation. To anyone who works with natural resources, conservation, and education are inseparable,” said McManamay.

McManamay was recognized for his contributions to coldwater conservation. In the spirit of Jimmie Pigg, McManamay participates in outreach and education by holding fishing days for children and stream conservation workshops. In addition, he helped revive the New River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and has served as its president since March 2006; chapter projects include habitat enhancement and stream clean-ups.

McManamay’s Ph.D. research focuses on stream restoration, a rapidly growing aspect of fisheries science. He is working on evaluating the downstream effects of the Santheelah Dam in North Carolina to the lower Cheoah River. Since dams alter or diminish sediment and gravel transport downstream, which can affect fish reproduction and food availability, the goal of the Cheoah River project is to restore and enhance the population of rare and threatened species to the river. “I like to think my research will help put environmental flow management and habitat restoration in a larger context that aids managers in decisions in many streams, not just the Cheoah River, where I do most of my research,” McManamay explained.

Donald Orth, professor of fisheries and wildlife sciences at Virginia Tech, nominated McManamay for the award. Orth noted that there is more to an education than performance in formal classes: “Although McManamay’s academic record shows that he is an ‘A’ student, his further education through his many service activities demonstrates his curiosity about learning more and sharing that knowledge with others.”

“I am extremely grateful for the award and I am very thankful to my advisor, Donald Orth, who nominated me,” McManamay commented. “Something like this is certainly motivational, because it makes me want to work harder, but it’s also reassuring because you realize that your hard work does not go unnoticed.”