Self-made student chapter earns award

By Dana Kobilinsky

Members of the Missouri Western State University student chapter of The Wildlife Society pose for a photo with their adviser at the 2017 annual TWS conference in Albuquerque, N.M. ©TWS

Nominations for the 2018 Student Chapter of the Year Award will be accepted through May 1. Visit the 2018 Student Chapter of the Year Award webpage by clicking the link above, or visit http://wildlife.org/engage/awards/ to learn more about all TWS awards.

Since Missouri Western State University’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society formed in 2002, it’s been busy making a difference for wildlife. The group’s ambition and success earned it the Student Chapter of the Year Award at The Wildlife Society’s 2017 annual TWS conference.

“The student chapter is not just another student club,” said Cary Chevalier, a biology professor at Missouri Western and the faculty adviser for the chapter. “It’s something bigger.”

In 1996, Chevalier helped create a wildlife degree program at the university that, if completed, would certify students as associate wildlife biologists. Soon, his students came to him requesting the creation of a student chapter.

“We can’t start an organization for the students,” he said. “It almost always will fail. It has to come from within.”

Since its creation, the chapter has been involved in a variety of projects. The group participated in Share the Harvest, where members helped the state agency collect venison to be processed and distributed to feed the needy. They’ve delivered about 6,000 meals a year.

They also help with antler measurements and demographic data at meat processing plants in the state. The chapter was given four sites to work on by the state agency, the most out of any other organization.

“In the last two years, we have had the highest accuracy estimate of the age of deer and what the actual age came out to be,” he said. “They earned the confidence of the state organization.”

Chevalier said the students were also involved with campaigning for Missouri’s Proposition 1, a water and wildlife conservation measure, by putting out signs and handing out educational brochures.

Chevalier holds his students to high standards, and many never miss a meeting. Over time, he’s seen the students understand more and more why the chapter is an essential part to their education.

“Twenty-first century professionals want team players, but they also want team players that act independently when appropriate,” Chevalier said. “There’s a difference between working alone and being a loner. That’s part of the atmosphere as an adviser, I help to build.”

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.

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