Just the thought of a packed week of plenaries, contributed papers, field trips, presentations and more is exhausting. But wildlifers know how to work hard and party just as hard, and they didn’t pass up the opportunity to do the latter at the “Relaxing in Raleigh” event.
The event Wednesday evening featured a live bluegrass band out on the patio that brought together some talented dancers eager to take in North Carolina culture. Other wildlifers chatted and enjoyed the warm weather and celebratory mood. Inside, attendees delighted in North Carolina cuisine including pulled pork sliders, hush puppies and grilled veggies. D.J. Randy Bennett provided an exciting mix of music including line dances that got many people on to the dance floor.
This was the third best-attended TWS conference and, amidst the celebration, conference attendees took the time to reflect on the successful and productive week in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I really enjoyed a lot of the talks,” said Abby Linh Keller, an undergraduate student at the University of North Dakota who presented a research-in-progress poster on least tern and piping plover nest behavior at the conference. “I feel like I learned a lot from those. And the networking events were really cool.”
Keller says she was able to network with many professionals, who helped provide her with direction on her future career.
Susan Rupp, the secretary-treasurer of the Southeast Section of TWS, has been with the Society for 20 years; however, this was the first time she attended the conference as a section officer. “It’s been really good to meet more of my colleagues from the southeast since I’m new to that area,” she said. Rupp, who runs her own business called Enviroscapes Ecological Consulting in northwest Arkansas, says she feels fortunate to have been able to attend these conferences ever since she was a student.
“When you’re a student, you’re so scared about reaching out to members of council or even other professors,” she said. “And today I could look back 20 years ago on myself and tell myself to relax, because people are friendly. They’re here to help.”
Conference attendees came from different professional backgrounds and capacities such as state and federal agencies as well as private and consulting firms.
Geriann Albers, a biologist with the North Carolina Resources Commission in Thomasville, N.C., appreciated the opportunity to learn about research being carried out across the country. “I work for a state agency, so a lot of times I only know what’s going on in my region,” Albers said. “And opportunities like this give you a chance for a broader perspective.”
Some attendees, such as Indrani Sasmai, a postdoctoral student at North Carolina State University, enjoyed some of the new additions at this conference including the “quiet room.” Sasmai and her husband, Shubham Datta who is an assistant professor at the Dakota College at Bottineau in North Dakota, brought their 1-year-old daughter Aaruni to the conference. Sasmai was able to use the quiet room for nursing, practicing for her presentation on coyotes and more.
“I really appreciate them having that room,” she said. “Because I did get some time to practice.” Sasmai added that there was a live streaming video for some talks in the room. “Sometimes my baby was sleeping, so I got to hear the talks while she was getting rest.”
Don Wolfe with Sutton Avian Research, a scientific consulting company, says the conference has been “awesome.” While he’s attended over 15 conferences in the past this one “is probably one of the better ones, for sure,” he said.
Wolfe says other TWS members should also take advantage of the annual TWS conferences. “You need to be here,” he said. “[There are] so many presentations and you’re bound to find somebody with shared interests ….”
We look forward to seeing you next year in Albuquerque, N.M for the 24th annual TWS conference!