Big turnout for Southeastern Conclave

By David Frey

Participants from student chapters throughout the region gathered at The Wildlife Society’s Southeastern Conclave at Mississippi State University. ©Mississippi State University TWS Student Chapter

Students from throughout the region came to Mississippi State University for The Wildlife Society’s Southeastern Conclave. About 370 students from 24 different schools attended the Conclave, which took place March 16-18.

“Having such a high number of schools, it was a prime opportunity to meet with people from other states and student chapters,” said Andrew House, president of the Mississippi State Student Chapter of TWS, which hosted the event.

TWS Conclaves take place once a year in regions across the United States and Canada. The events provide wildlife students with valuable hands-on training in wildlife management and conservation, as well as networking opportunities with wildlife professionals.

“Since the wildlife field is so small, this was a time to make contacts for graduate school and internships,” House said.

The event began with a kickoff dinner by Stanley Temple, a professor emeritus in conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who talked about traveling the route through the Southeast that Aldo Leopold, a famed conservationist and a founder of TWS, wrote about.

Students took part in 18 workshops, ranging from bird banding to necropsies to chemical immobilization of deer. Several of the workshops took place at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, including a rookery workshop that took students through a variety of bird nesting areas.

“It’s pretty incredible,” House said. “You just canoe a big loop around the refuge, around the swampy marshes and an open lake. There’s a hot spot there where you see a lot of birds.”

Competitions included team competitions in stations testing wildlifer skills such as mammal skull identification, individual competitions in challenges such as shotgun shooting and orienteering and a quiz bowl championship.

The University of Georgia Student Chapter won the Conclave. North Carolina State’s Student Chapter placed second. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Student Chapter placed third.

The Wildlife Society awards a grant of $1,000 to each Conclave to help with expenses. For more information on TWS Conclaves, click here.

David Frey is an editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at dfrey@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about his article. Read more of David's articles here.

You can follow him on Twitter at @davidmfrey.