UD Wildlife Society members get hands-on experience at Northeast Student Conclave

wildlife75Members of the Wildlife Society Club at the University of Delaware traveled to Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pennsylvania, last month to take part in the Wildlife Society’s Northeast Student Conclave hosted by Juniata College.

The conclave provided UD participants opportunities for hands-on experiences and networking with fellow wildlife students and professionals, and they said they learned valuable skills that will help as they embark on their future career paths.

Those who participated in the event from UD include Catherine Clark, a senior majoring in wildlife conservation and ecology and treasurer of the Wildlife Society at UD; Melissa Moody, a senior majoring in wildlife conservation and ecology; Emily Slingerland, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR); Aaron Crasnick, a junior majoring in wildlife conservation and ecology; and Lauren Meckler, sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Activities included mammalogy skills and a rocket netting workshops, in which the students learned how to catch a group of birds in order to determine things like sex and age distribution in a population. There was also a trapping techniques course, in which students learned to put ear tags on white footed deer mice, and a mist netting workshop, in which the students caught birds and put bands around their ankles.

There was also a workshop in which a radio tag was applied to a turtle and it was released, with the students having to find it using radio telemetry.

Clark said that the trip was “very hands-on. It gets you exposed to things that you might not be exposed to in the classroom. We got to use handheld GPS devices that you don’t usually get to use in classroom settings and learned a lot of field lab techniques.”

In addition to the hands on-learning, Clark said the conclave also offered great networking opportunities.

“Wildlife conservation is a growing field so I still feel like it’s still pretty small and if they know your face or your name, it gives you those connections in different parts of the United States and not just Delaware,” said Clark.

Since she had gone to the event last year, Clark said that it was great to be able to see familiar faces at the event.

“A lot of people were very recognizable. We hung out with the same people pretty much. It was really easy to get to know other people in your age group in your same field,” Clark said.

As for the learning opportunities afforded to students studying in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at UD, Clark said that Jake Bowman, department chair, provides students great experiences in research techniques and that her ornithology class has been particular beneficial.

“In ornithology, we did a lot of mist netting and catching birds, putting tags on them and learning how to use trackers on birds — things like that, which I feel like you don’t get in just a normal ornithology classroom setting,” said Clark.

The Wildlife Society Club at UD also holds a retreat to allow some of the newer students an opportunity to experience that hands-on learning.

“As a club, we hold a retreat where we ask graduate students and professors to give us little demonstrations on how to do things for younger undergraduates to see, or even if people are thinking about transferring into this program, to give them the opportunity to see what we’re actually about as a wildlife conservation major,” said Clark.

Article by Adam Thomas