Wilderness Advocate Receives University of Idaho Honorary Doctorate

Tuesday, December 6 2011

CLARKSTON, Wash. – In recognition of her public service and contributions to natural resource management and engineering in Idaho and beyond, the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources will honor Janet DeVlieg Pope with a degree of Doctor of Natural Resources on Saturday, Dec. 10 during commencement ceremonies on the Moscow campus.

“Janet is a true advocate for the College of Natural Resources, and we are extremely proud to have her as a friend of the college,” said CNR Dean Kurt Pregitzer. “She deserves this award because of her selfless contributions and vision for undergraduate and graduate programs supporting wilderness science that is valuable not only to Idaho but to the Inland Northwest and across the United States.”

Pope and her husband Jim, a retired helicopter pilot contractor who flew wildlife surveys for several states’ wildlife agencies, have supported University of Idaho natural resource and engineering programs for the last 20 years.

Pope is president of the DeVlieg Foundation, a private, tax-exempt charity interested in giving young people educational opportunities. Pope dedicates Foundation funds to support both University of Idaho academic research and hands-on field experiences in the areas of engineering and natural resource conservation.

The Foundation supports undergraduate internships and graduate research assistantships for CNR students at Taylor Wilderness Research Station, located in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Additionally, the Foundation supports graduate students at the McCall Outdoor Sciences School who visit Taylor to improve their outdoor teaching skills.

“Janet Pope’s encouragement and involvement in the DeVlieg Research Scholar program gave me the opportunity to gain invaluable skills in research and backcountry living,” said Amber Lankford, a past recipient of a DeVlieg Undergraduate Research Scholarship. “As a result of my first summer at Taylor, I gained a fuller understanding of real world conditions in research, cemented my own passion for ornithology and became part of a research community that I will remain part of for the rest of my life. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable the experience was for me.”

Brian Kennedy, associate professor of fisheries resources, added: “Janet’s support has had a direct and significant impact on my research activities as well as those of graduate students and undergraduate research scholars at Taylor. Her support has allowed us to pursue genuinely cutting-edge science that otherwise would have been difficult or delayed had we relied on more conventional avenues for funding.”

Among the DeVlieg Foundation’s notable contributions to the university was the 2004 construction of a large cabin at Taylor. She and Jim volunteered hundreds of “labor of love” hours to complete the DeVlieg Cabin, which provides a living-learning structure for interns, faculty and researchers.

Currently, the Foundation supports the development of renewable energy utility systems at Taylor, designed and constructed by young engineers in senior capstone studies in the university’s College of Engineering. A new hydro and solar power grid have recently been installed, and work is being done to improve water availability.

The Foundation also supports an undergraduate mechanical engineering scholarship for the College of Engineering and a graduate program with the U-Idaho Center for Ecohydraulics in Boise.

The Popes enjoy getting to know and mentor the students whose research projects are supported by the Foundation. They join students to conduct field research follow their scientific discoveries and support student and faculty flight expenses into the roadless Taylor facility.
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The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to more than 70 additional research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.