The Alan M. Craig Award, established in 1987, is given on an irregular basis for “exceptional service, leadership, and dedication to WFO over a sustained period of time.” The award is named in honor of Alan Craig, a founding member of WFO and a founding editor of Western Birds (formerly California Birds), which he edited for 14 years.
On September 10, 2022, at the 46th Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada, Western Field Ornithologists presented the Alan M. Craig Award to Kenneth P. Able for his extraordinary service in developing the WFO publications program. During his tenure of nearly a decade as an active WFO Board member, Ken served as special publications editor and as a member of the Publications Committee, later becoming committee co-chair, and finally sole chair of the committee. He gave WFO his all, devoting years and untold hours to the organization and the organization’s mission. Ken kept the WFO Publications Committee and the Board vibrant. He used his past experiences, skills, sense of humor, and scholarship to further field ornithology in the West.
Ken contributed to and managed four major projects for WFO’s Special Publications series Studies of Western Birds. Under Ken’s guidance, WFO published three volumes in the series: The Biology of a Desert Apparition: LeConte’s Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei) (Studies of Western Birds 2); Trends and Traditions: Avifaunal Change in Western North America (Studies of Western Birds 3); and The Birds of Gambell and St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (Studies of Western Birds 4). Ken also coordinated the review and forthcoming publication of The Birds of Inyo County, California (Studies of Western Birds 5).
Publications such as these are complex projects that include managing the mechanics of publication; working with authors and in some cases multiple editors; managing time lines; assuring accuracy and critical review of scholarship; and coordinating each step of the publishing process up to book sales and distribution. Ken’s colleagues on the Publications Committee praise his dedication, honesty, and generosity of spirit. As one colleague, Catherine (Cat) Waters, said: “He respected his committee’s individuality, talents, and opinions. No one who worked with him was treated as anything less than a partner. You could absolutely, positively trust, have faith in, and learn from working with him.”
Throughout the history of Western Field Ornithologists, peer-reviewed scientific publications have remained at the core of the organization’s mission. This award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of Ken Able to developing and promoting the publications program, and raising the level of scholarship and outreach for WFO scientific publications.
After spending 30 years of literature and field research, designing the book’s format and species protocol, and writing and editing the Inyo County bird accounts, it was time to find a publisher. All arrows pointed to Western Field Ornithologists Special Publications series Studies of Western Birds. Honestly, we dreaded the final steps in the publishing process. It was all unknown territory but friends highly recommended Ken Able. Colleague Catherine Waters said it better than all others, ““He respected his committee’s individuality, talents, and opinions. No one who worked with him was treated as anything less than a partner. You could absolutely, positively trust, have faith in, and learn from working with him.”
It was a joy to see another Ken Able email in our box with ideas, help, questions, suggestions, etc. He opened horizons for us that we didn’t know existed. He found ways to include sections that had earlier been edited out because it would make the book too large and expensive. Last, but certainly not least, was Ken’s uplifting and humorous personality. It was an honor for us to work with him. Tom & Jo Heindel
This is a well deserved award for Ken Able. He was the spark to allow me to work up the thrasher data long collecting dust in my files for SWB #2. He was extremely efficient at getting reviews, editing and then shepherding it through the publishing process. It was four years well spent working with Ken. Congratulations!! Job very well done!