Skip to main content

Boots on the Ground Scholarship



IMG 3182IMG 3180IMG 1348 Dick Weaver

The Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (Society) is proud to sponsor the Richard A.  Weaver Boots-on-the-Ground Scholarship. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for the “Boots on the Ground” scholarship. Any individual submitting a project or program proposal shall, however, be an active member of the Society, or shall be sponsored in writing by a current member of the Society. It is essential that proposed projects or programs enhance knowledge of, or otherwise be for the benefit of, bighorn sheep or bighorn sheep habitat. MS students will receive preference in our selection of applicants, but must be accepted as an advanced degree student at an accredited college or university, and have an advisor in an appropriate department or discipline. Applicants also must have experience working with bighorn sheep, or be supervised by an individual with such experience.

Dick Weaver began his career with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) in 1948 after mustering out of the US Army and finishing his education.  He worked up through the CDFG ranks and, in 1968, became the lead investigator for a newly funded project to inventory bighorn sheep.  That project was the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of bighorn sheep populations and habitat in California, and remains the only such evaluation completed to date. The information gained resulted in the first Bighorn Management Plan for California. During the course of his research, Dick reached two primary conclusions: water is among the most critical resources for bighorn sheep, and hiking (‘wearing out boot leather’) in desert bighorn sheep habitat is the best method to understand wildlife and habitat.

Dick’s efforts resulted in the initiation of projects by CDFG to improve water distribution and availability for bighorn sheep, but he realized the enormous scale of that undertaking could not be accomplished by the Department alone. As early as 1970, Dick turned to the Society and other volunteer organizations to help inventory, repair, and construct water sources specifically for the benefit of desert bighorn sheep.  As a result of working with volunteers and in an effort to attract additional volunteers, Dick co-authored the legislation that in 1986 reclassified selected populations of bighorn sheep as game animals, and resulted in the first bighorn sheep hunt in California in114 years.

Following his retirement from CDFG in 1986, Dick remained deeply involved with bighorn sheep management, and served as the Society’s first Science Advisor. An additional, and very important, aspect of Dick’s career involved the Desert Bighorn Council (DBC), a professional organization with the goal of enhancing conservation and sharing knowledge about desert big­horn sheep. He was a charter member of that organization, which was founded in 1957, and he attended nearly every annual meeting until his passing in 2017. During that time, he mentored many other bighorn sheep biologists, and he co-authored the chapter on water in the Council’s book, The Desert Bighorn: Its life history, ecology and management, which was published by the University of Arizona Press.

Society members and other volunteers have spent many hours in the desert and around campfires listening to Dick Weaver’s stories, and learning from his experiences.  During those chats, he shared many insightful thoughts that were picked up and repeated so frequently that long-time Society member and devoted protégé Glenn Sudmeier has termed them, “Weaver’s Wisdom.” Among them are, “We’ll never be closer without coming all the way back”; "There's no substitute for wearing out boot leather"; and "The only thing that makes government move is pressure from the private sector". Dick Weaver was a very pragmatic individual.

Interested and qualified applicants are invited to complete and submit the attached application.  Completed applications must be received by 1 June, and a funding decision will be made by 1 September each year. Individual grants normally are made for one year only, and no applicant is eligible to receive more than two such awards.

All approved projects are expected to produce information of scientific or practical value for desert bighorn sheep conservation. Recipients of grants are expected to submit their findings to be considered for publication in appropriate professional outlets.  A final report will be expected as a deliverable product. The Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep intends to share key project results in newsletters and other related media, and to include the final report on our website. Grants are intended to be used specifically for fieldwork and equipment that might not otherwise be funded.  Grants will be made directly to the applicant unless otherwise arranged. The Society does not permit funds to be utilized for overhead or administrative expenses of any institution.

Proposals will be screened by the Scholarship Review Committee, and evaluations will be forwarded to the Board of Directors of the Society for final approval. Prior to disbursement of funds, awardees shall sign a contractual agreement with the Society stating that results of the project will be submitted to be considered for publication in a professional journal or be presented at an appropriate professional meeting within 3 years following receipt of funds from the Richard A. Weaver Scholarship.

Upon completion of the project or program, a complete accounting of the scholarship funds shall be forwarded to the Society. Funds awarded shall not be used for administrative purposes by the sponsoring college, university, or agency, or for travel to meetings with the exception that the budget may include funds for travel to a professional or educational meeting for presentation of the funded project.


Download PDF Application