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The USGS National Wildlife Health Center has engaged in strategic planning to evaluate our programs and reimagine how our science impacts wildlife and ecosystem health.

Why this matters: A substantial portion of the historic national wildlife disease model, common among natural resource agencies and at the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), is a focus on identifying and communicating about departures from health. However, with ecosystem resilience (i.e., the ability of a natural system to absorb the effects of change, reorganize itself, and adapt to new and changing environments) becoming a central focus for the conservation community, NWHC is taking an opportunity to thoughtfully assess our science programs and ensure that they align with the changing needs of the community. 

NWHC has historically used a large proportion of its resources to support diagnostic services (i.e., passive surveillance) for partner agencies, and thus primarily informed situational awareness and risk communications. Several efforts are underway to examine our role in the community, evaluate our internal processes for efficiencies, measure the return on investment for our products, and estimate the overall impact of our science to wildlife conservation. Asking hard questions of ourselves and others is a challenging, but necessary, aspect of how the center is planning to strategically move towards a future where our collective focus is more aligned with informing wildlife and system health rather than primarily documenting departures from health. Center efforts have initially been focused internally (team-based strategic planning exercises coupled with structured committee work to evaluate our diagnostics and overall science impacts). However, we will be coordinating with partners throughout this process to understand their current and future needs so we can continue to align ourselves with the changing conservation community. We look forward to engaging with partners during these efforts, and continuing to maximize the value we provide to the communities we serve.

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