John Eadie wearing a blue button down shirt stands outside on the UC Davis campus.

Distinguished Professor John Eadie Wins UC Davis Teaching Prize

Professor Donating $60,000 Prize to Establish Scholarship to Promote Diversity in Wildlife and Waterfowl Biology

It’s rare to leave a lecture, field survey or casual conversation with John Eadie without a smile or a chuckle. The University of California, Davis professor is known for his sense of humor, enthusiasm and vast knowledge about ecology and wildlife conservation. It’s what students and colleagues admire most about him.

John Eadie holds a baby duck in his hands while students stand behind him working.

John Eadie is the 36th recipient of the UC Davis Teaching Prize, which is among the largest of its kind in the country. Check out previous winners here.

Eadie is a distinguished professor with the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and is this year’s winner of the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement, given annually to honor faculty who are both exceptional teachers and scholars.

Eadie accepted the award with the humility most people on campus have come to expect from him and insisted it was really a win for the department.

“I really view this as a reflection of our department, not of any one individual,” Eadie said. “Our whole department is just fantastic. To me, this is a departmental award; that’s how I view it.”

Eadie joined the department and UC Davis in 1995, starting as an assistant professor and moving up through the years until being named distinguished professor in 2022. He currently serves as the Dennis G. Raveling Endowed Chair in waterfowl biology. He was department chair for five years before passing the baton in 2017 to Nann Fangue, who commends Eadie for being a motivating instructor, engaging mentor and dedicated advisor.

“He explains things clearly and transparently, he models the behaviors we hope to see in all faculty, and he has an incredibly generous spirit,” Fangue said.

Passionate and inspiring instructor

Eadie’s courses are a mixture of lecture, laboratory and field classes. By his own estimates, he’s taught more than 3,000 undergraduate students during his career at UC Davis. He also contributes to seminars in the Avian Sciences Graduate Group and Animal Behavior Graduate Group. College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean Helene Dillard credits Eadie for motivating students to engage in the content and explore their own interests and passions.

“Professor Eadie is a passionate educator, inspiring students at all educational levels and from diverse backgrounds,” said Dean Dillard. “Students in his courses are guided to think critically about issues of conservation and wildlife management, and his contagious enthusiasm has positively changed the lives of many students.”

Year after year, student evaluations describe Eadie’s courses as informative and inspiring, with many highlighting his impressive ability to translate complex concepts into easy-to-understand material. One student wrote: “Dr. Eadie is one of the greatest professors I have ever had the joy of taking class from. He is simultaneously funny, smart, caring and just an all-around incredible person that fosters a learning environment unparalleled to any other.”

John Eadie shares a laugh with students while out collecting data about baby ducks.


World-renowned scholar

Eadie grew up on a farm in British Columbia, Canada, and says his rural outdoor adventures helped spark his interest in wildlife, especially waterfowl. He often shares with students a time when he was a kid that he spotted a pair of trumpeter swans on his family’s lake. He said seeing those birds, which were once on the endangered species list, was a moving experience.

“I tell my students that taught me two things: You can’t ever replace something in the wild; when it’s gone, it’s gone. It was my first conservation lesson,” he explained. “Second, I often think about what if our lake wasn’t there? I learned the value of even these little wetlands and the importance of maintaining them.”

Eadie is a world-renowned scholar in behavioral ecology and wildlife management and conservation. His research interests include the ecology, conservation and management of waterfowl and wetlands. Eadie has helped come up with solutions for some of the most pressing challenges in wildlife conservation, including developing tools to aid conservation planning for wetland-dependent birds threatened by climate change, drought and urban development.

Eadie has been an invited member and leader of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Continental Assessment Team, which has helped develop and draft the North American Waterfowl Management Plan that establishes objectives and goals for waterfowl conservation in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion

Twenty years ago, Eadie launched the Wood Duck Internship Program at UC Davis, which he continues to manage. The program provides students with opportunities to participate in field research associated with understanding waterfowl behavior, reproduction and survival. Eadie said more than 500 students have participated in the program, which he considers one of his greatest achievements.

This year’s award comes with a $60,000 prize, funded through philanthropic gifts managed by the UC Davis Foundation. Eadie said he and his wife, Jane Eadie, are donating the prize money to establish a new scholarship to benefit underrepresented and nontraditional students in wildlife and waterfowl biology. He hopes it will support efforts to develop a diverse workforce able to meet future conservation challenges.

“We really need to change the face of our profession,” Eadie said. “It is already changing, but we need to be able to encourage and support people coming in on the undergraduate level for them to see it as a career path for them.”

A special gala to honor Eadie will be held on Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

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