Ending the conference on a high note in Cleveland

By Dana Kobilinsky

From the sessions and talks to the workshops, plenaries and field trips, over 1,650 conference attendees learned a week-long array of wildlife knowledge and networked with their peers at the 25th TWS Annual Conference in Cleveland.

“I think the energy level and the broad array of topics that have been added at this conference has been amazing,” said TWS CEO Ed Thompson. “Networking seems at an all-time high level and we’re very, very proud of the results. We hope all conference attendees walk away feeling they had a memorable, enriching experience that they will share with their colleagues and friends.”

Conference attendees agreed that the daily networking opportunities — from the Student-Professional mixer to the Women of Wildlife and Aldo Leopold receptions to simply walking through the member’s activity center and visiting exhibitor booths — were some of the best parts of the conference this year.

“What I’m looking for is guidance and to find a path to go next,” said Cassie Thompson, a student at Ohio University. “I thought I was the only one in biology that was still finding where to go.” But Thompson took advantage of the alternative career options symposia, which she said were extremely helpful.

Not only did wildlifers take the opportunity to attend sessions that piqued their interest — the “#MeToo” session was one that was so packed that attendees had to stand against the wall or sit on the floor — they also enjoyed plenary sessions, many with the overall conference theme of conservation success stories. So often, many professional organizations focus on the problems of their field, but many don’t take the time to reflect on the positives, past president John McDonald said.

There were also plenty opportunities for plain old fun. From joining field trips to the area’s network of parks known as the Emerald Necklace and the Perkins Wildlife Center and Wood Gardens to taking in the comic relief of the Council Bowl, wildlifers showed once again that they know how to have fun. The opening event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also allowed attendees not only to network, but to have fun while doing it.

“It’s been a great conference,” said Nick Wesdock, the membership and conferences manager with The Wildlife Society. “We are grateful to all of our attendees and all of our partners, vendors, exhibitors and supporters. And we hope everyone is excited for next year!”

Next year’s 26th Annual Conference will be a joint event with the American Fisheries Society and will feature the theme, “Communicating a Conservation Message.”

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

Read more of Dana's articles here.


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