Steve L. McMullin

Steve L. McMullin
Associate Department Head
Associate Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife
Director, College of Natural Resources and Environment Leadership Institute

B.S., University of Idaho (1978)
M.S., University of Idaho (1979)
Ph.D., Virginia Tech (1993)

My website

Academic Interests:

Leadership in natural resources; Workforce planning for natural resources agencies; public involvement in resource decision making; human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife.

Courses Taught:

Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Wildlife; Leadership & Communications for Natural Resource Professionals; Fisheries Techniques; Natural Resources Education

Professional Achievements:

President, Southern Division American Fisheries Society (2008-09);  President, Virginia Chapter American Fisheries Society (1999-2000); President, Virginia Tech Chapter American Fisheries Society (1992-93); Chair American Fisheries Society Continuing Education Committee; chosen as outstanding faculty member by the students of the College of Natural Resources and Environment (1994, 1999, 2004).

Recent Research Projects:

Dr. McMullin's academic program is designed to improve the effectiveness of natural resource management agencies and the professionals who work for them. His courses at Virginia Tech focus on improving students' understanding of the human dimension of natural resources management, including development of leadership, public involvement and conflict resolution skills. He also is active in providing continuing education for natural resource professionals, focusing primarily on leadership development. Products of his research include tools and processes for assessing management effectiveness that have been used by nearly one-half of the nation's state fish and wildlife agencies. He has been instrumental in helping the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries improve its public involvement processes. Selected research projects include:

Characterization and communicative analysis of wildlife managers and recreational users of Virginia’s wildlife management areas (with Dr. James Parkhurst); Ph.D student—Amy Carrozzino-Lyon. (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2008-2011)

We estimated total recreational use of 10 wildlife management areas (WMAs) owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) over the course of a full year and also assessed user opinions of land use management practices designed to enhance wildlife habitat.  We compared opinions of users and VDGIF professionals using co-orientation theory and determined that even though the two groups often agreed on use of management practices, they frequently thought they disagreed.  Recognition of this potential miscommunication could be valuable in improving communication between agency professionals and their stakeholders.  The land use management plan we helped to develop will guide management of WMAs in Virginia over the next 10 years.

Opinions of North Carolina hunters regarding hunting on Sunday and satisfactions with, motivations for, and constraints to hunting participation (with Dr. James Parkhurst); M.S. student—Melissa Hooper. (Responsive Management and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 2004-2006)

In collaboration with Responsive Management, we conducted surveys and focus groups of North Carolina residents and hunters to determine their attitudes toward hunting on Sunday, which was not legal, but being considered, at the time of the study.  North Carolinians were extremely polarized over the issue, with approximately equal numbers strongly approving or strongly disapproving of hunting on Sunday.  We found that if hunting on Sunday were permitted, it likely would have increased hunting participation by an average of 7 days per year per hunter, but we were unable to determine if Sunday hunting would affect hunter recruitment.

Evolution of stakeholder knowledge, attitudes, and opinions throughout a participative process to develop a management plan for black bears in Virginia; M.S. student—Nelson Lafon. (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 1999-2001)

We assessed knowledge, attitudes and opinions of stakeholders prior to and following a process to develop a statewide management plan for black bears in Virginia.  The planning process was designed to focus stakeholder involvement primarily on making value choices (setting goals) and involvement of agency professionals primarily on making technical choices (establishing specific, measurable objectives to attain goals, evaluating strategies to attain objectives). We found that knowledge of stakeholders regarding management of black bears improved significantly and that they also developed a more positive image of the agency at the end of the process. Agency professionals became more comfortable with significant (and properly focused) stakeholder involvement in planning and decision making.

Market segmentation, motivations, attitudes, and preferences of Virginia resident freshwater anglers; M.S. student—Brendan O’Neill (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 1999-2001)

We conducted a statewide survey of Virginia anglers and through a multi-level market segmentation, we discovered significant differences in motivations among anglers seeking different species and of different levels of specialization.  More specialized anglers tended to be more oriented toward trophy fishing, regardless of species sought, while less specialized anglers more often were oriented toward catching fish to eat.  However, these preferences were not consistent across all species.  Specialist anglers who sought striped bass strongly desired trophy fish and fish to eat—a particularly difficult outcome for managers to achieve.

Comparison of Professional and Public Opinions of How to Allocate New Funding for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries M.S. student—James Watkins. (In cooperation with Responsive Management and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 1998-2000)
In July 2000, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) began to receive approximately $12 million per year in new funding derived from state sales taxes on hunting, fishing and other outdoor equipment. This funding boost increased the agency budget by over 30% and empowered all citizens of Virginia as paying customers of VDGIF. In this project we assessed opinions and priorities of internal and external stakeholders through surveys of agency employees, hunters, anglers, boaters, wildlife watchers, landowners, and the general public of Virginia. The final product was a set of strategic recommendations for future direction the reinvented agency should take.

Motivations and Characteristics of volunteers belonging to nongovernmental natural resource organizations. M.S. student—Teresa Martinez. (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Appalachian Trail Conference, 1995-97)

Surveys of the general membership and of active volunteers in two nongovernmental organizations were used to determine the factors most important in motivating people to be active in those organizations. The research also attempted to identify factors that contribute most to "burnout" of volunteers.

Selected Recent Publications:

McMullin, S. L. and E. Pert. 2010. The process of fisheries management. Pages 133-155 in: W.A. Hubert and M.C. Quist, editors. Inland Fisheries Management in North America, 3rd edition. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Baydack, R., W. D. Edge, and S. L. McMullin. 2009. Preparing future wildlife professionals in wildlife education, do the ends justify the means? The Wildlife Professional 3(4): 10-11.

McMullin, S. L., D. Svedarsky, S. J. Riley, J. Organ, and D. Schad. 2009. The coursework of conservation: are university curricula on target? A synthesis. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 74:75-79.

Stauffer, D. F. and S. L. McMullin. 2009. Desired Competencies and Perceived Proficiencies of Entry-Level Fisheries and Wildlife Professionals: A Survey of Employers. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 74:62-68.

McMullin, S. L. and C. Hunter. 2006. Advancing to a career in fisheries administration. Pages 183-204 in: D. A. Hewitt, W. E. Pine III and A. V. Zale (eds.) The AFS Guide to Fisheries Employment (2nd edition). American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

McMullin, S. L. 2006. Baby boomers and leadership in state fish and wildlife agencies: a changing of the guard approaches. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 70:27-37.

Lafon, N.W., S. L. McMullin, D.E. Steffen, and R. S. Schulman. 2004. Improving stakeholder knowledge and agency image through collaborative planning. Wildlife Society Bulletin 32(1):220-231.

Martinez, T. A. and S. L. McMullin. 2004. Factors affecting decisions to volunteer in nongovernmental organizations. Environment & Behavior 36:112-126.

McMullin, S. L. 1997. Developing tomorrow’s fish and wildlife agency leaders. Fisheries 22(2):24-25.

McMullin, S. L. 1996. Natural resource management and leadership in public arena \decision making: a prescriptive framework. Pages 54-63 in: L. E. Miranda and D. R. DeVries (ed.) Multidimensional approaches to reservoir fisheries management. American Fisheries Society Symposium 16. Bethesda, MD.

McMullin, S.L. 1993. Characteristics and strategies of effective state fish and wildlife agencies. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 58:206-210.

McMullin, S.L. and L.A. Nielsen. 1991. Public involvement in natural resource management. Pages 87-100 in: W. R. Mangun (ed.) Public policy issues in wildlife management. Greenwood Press. Westport, CT.

McMullin, S.L. and L.A. Nielsen. 1991. Resolution of natural resource allocation conflicts through effective public involvement. Policy Studies Journal 19:553-559.

Last updated August 10, 2012