Guidelines for Successful Working Groups

Working groups are subunits of The Wildlife Society that are composed entirely of TWS members and are defined by professional interests. They support TWS’ goals and objectives within the various disciplines of wildlife management. working groups have no geographic boundaries and international participation is encouraged if appropriate for that working group.

Working groups provide a forum for members with common professional interests to communicate, exchange information, facilitate continuing education, and increase public awareness in their area of specialty. Working groups hold meetings at annual TWS conferences as well as independent meetings outside of TWS, sponsor seminars, publish newsletters and journals, support and produce the publication of books and other documents, establish electronic communications, and undertake other actions consistent with their charters, and the bylaws and policies of TWS.

With the approval of TWS Council, they develop technical reviews, position statements, and other materials for The Wildlife Society.

Through positive and active relations with journalists, government officials, special interest groups, other organizations, and the general public, they promote and enhance the responsible management of natural resources.

Operational Guidelines

TWS Council and members of TWS Working Groups expect a high level of professionalism and activity from established (official) working groups. In order to facilitate success in achieving those goals, working groups need to meet certain requirements as specified below. If an official working group fails to maintain any of these standards, TWS Council may vote to put the working group on probation for two years and if the deficiency is not corrected within two years, then Council may vote to dissolve the working group during the third year. A new petition may be accepted to reinstate the working group should the deficiency be corrected and sufficient interest exists within five years from the date of dissolution.

Beyond these requirements, there are a range of activities that Working Groups may undertake to achieve their missions. To guide working groups to their full potential, TWS developed these guidelines to clarify annual requirements for official TWS working groups and provide recommended actions for additional activities.

Annual Requirements

Reporting & Communications with TWS Headquarters

  • Submit officer report form to TWS Headquarters immediately following each election.
  • Submit annual report to TWS Headquarters by August 30 of each year.
  • Submit rates for working group dues for the following year to TWS Headquarters by July 31 of each year for inclusion on TWS membership forms.
  • Inform TWS Headquarters which officer(s) will receive their membership roster and rebate checks and keep that contact information current.
  • Work with TWS’ Program Manager when making any changes to the working group’s charter to ensure compliance with TWS guidelines. Due notice (refer to your charter) must be given to the working group’s membership before voting on charter changes and changes must be approved by the working group’s minimum requirements (refer to your charter). Once approved by the working group membership, the revised charter must be submitted to TWS’ Program Manager for formal approval. If the revised charter is acceptable, TWS’ Program Manager will send an official letter of approval to the working group chair.

Membership Communications & Meetings

  • Require TWS membership of all working group officers and members.
  • Establish membership dues. These dues are used for the operational costs of the working group. The Wildlife Society collects all dues for Working Groups through annual membership solicitations and other means. The Wildlife Society retains $1 of the dues from each working group member to partially cover expenses associated with providing administrative support to working gGroups.
  • Follow established protocols for proper meeting conduct and due notice as specified in the working group charter.
  • Communicate regularly with working group members through a formal newsletter or other informal communication via email, listserve, website updates, or conference calls. Documentation of at least one form of communication must be forwarded to Program Manager for inclusion in TWS’ Headquarters’ office files.
  • Hold annual meetings either in conjunction with TWS Annual Conference, or at a separate venue, and encourage members’ attendance.
  • Develop and maintain a website, either using TWS’s website template or linked to TWS’ website, for current communications, data archival needs, and future activities information.

Finances & Record Keeping

  • Submit tax report form listing beginning and ending year balances and annual total revenue and expenses (January 1 - December 31) to TWS Headquarters’ office files by March 30.
  • Submit annual financial electronic requirement (either e-postcard or Form 990) to the Internal Revenue Service with a confirmation receipt forwarded to TWS Headquarters’ office files by May 15.
  • Retain financial records as required by the Internal Revenue Service for annual tax reporting and in the event of an audit. Financial records, such as paid bills, receipts, cancelled checks, check stubs, etc. should be retained by the treasurer for seven years.
  • Permanently retain other historical records, such as meeting minutes, annual reports, etc. in the secretary’s files.
  • Only dispose of other records after careful screening that there is no future reference or historical value.

Outreach & Training

  • Before final adoption of any position statements, working groups must gain official approval of TWS Council. Contact TWS’ Director of Government Affairs for assistance.


  • When raising funds outside of membership dues, working groups must familiarize themselves with federal and state laws regarding tax exempt organizations. If in doubt, working groups should contact TWS’ Finance Manager and/or the IRS.

Recommended Actions

Reporting & Communications with TWS Headquarters

  • Submit all member communications to TWS Headquarters (i.e. newsletters, meeting minutes, award winners).
  • Send at least one officer to participate in the Working Group Leaders Forum held at each TWS Annual Conference.
  • Communicate actively with TWS’ Executive Director and Program Manager throughout the year.
  • Develop a strategic plan for the working group that lists key goals, objectives, and specific tasks (with deadlines) to achieve each objective. Use this strategic plan to monitor progress and measure success.

Membership & Meetings

  • Recruit members who are specialists in the working group’s area of expertise.
  • Involve members in the activities of the working group through committees and other methods to develop future leaders for the working group.
  • Offer travel scholarships/grants to student and young professional working group members to allow them to attend and present at the TWS Annual Conference, thereby encouraging continued participation and engagement of new, young members.

Finances & Record Keeping

  • Develop an annual budget each year and set realistic goals for Working Group operations and activities.

Outreach & Training

  • Stay active in the working group’s area of expertise by creating resolutions, public statements, technical reviews, or articles for a TWS publication.
  • Provide relevant technical support and advice to TWS members and TWS staff when requested.
  • Offer opportunities for relevant professional development and training (i.e. workshops at TWS Annual Conference or student conclaves), including the production of training materials (i.e. manuals, reading lists, videos).
  • Develop relevant panel discussions, keynote addresses, breakfast roundtables, and symposia at TWS Annual Conference.
  • Conduct relevant surveys and analyses of TWS membership.
  • Develop web-based toolkits for managers working in the Working Group’s area of expertise.
  • Develop a fact sheet to explain the working group, its activities, and membership.
  • Develop appropriate student mentoring and training activities through TWS Student Chapters, Student Conclaves, and the Student Professional Development Working Group.
  • Communicate and collaborate with relevant groups and organizations. Act as a catalyst to bring these groups together with wildlife professionals to find solutions to cutting edge problems in wildlife science, management, and conservation.
  • Establish awards to recognize outstanding professional achievement or significant contribution to wildlife conservation. Working groups may purchase TWS emblem template, certificates, or pins to be used for such awards.
  • Collaborate across working group boundaries on topics relevant to two or more working groups, such as co-hosting symposia or workshops of common interest to multiple working groups.


  • Hold workshops at TWS’ Annual Conference.
  • Rent exhibitor booths at TWS’ Conference or other conferences.
  • Host networking events, sell services/merchandise, or hold raffles.
  • Working groups may solicit direct contributions, which are tax deductible by the donor.
  • Host conferences separate from TWS’ Annual Conference.

Publishing Proceedings of Workshops or Symposia

TWS working groups often publish proceedings from the symposia or workshops they sponsor at TWS’ Annual Conference and elsewhere. Yet working groups have several different publishing options, such as publishing proceedings in special sections of The Journal of Wildlife Management or the Wildlife Society Bulletin, working with commercial or academic book publishers, or publishing electronically via the internet.

Read the full Working Group Guildelines for Publishing Proceedings of Workshops or Symposia.