Student chapter hosts wild “beast feast”

By Dana Kobilinsky

University Auditorium, University of Florida ©Ufgatorman

From alligator-rabbit gumbo to cricket-filled brownies, members of the community got to sample a variety of delicacies thanks to a wild meat feast hosted by TWS’ University of Florida Student Chapter earlier this month.

The University of Florida’s TWS Student Chapter set up the buffet before 650 people came to feast at their wild meat feast event. ©Allan Gonzalez

The University of Florida’s TWS Student Chapter set up the buffet before 650 people came to feast at their wild meat feast event.
©Allan Gonzalez

Because many individuals don’t have access to game such as deer, quail, bison and elk, this was an opportunity for some people to get their first taste of these and other wild meats. “People were able to get out of their comfort zone, learn about what we do with The Wildlife Society, and get engaged with the community,” said Matt Akers, president of the University of Florida’s student chapter.

The majority of the meat, according to Akers, was donated to the chapter from different organizations such as hunting clubs in the area. The student members then have the fun of preparing all the dishes from the donations. “We ended up having 17 different recipes for similar items because people put their own twist on them,” he said. “It was definitely an opportunity to try new things.”

While the cold and wet weather kept some of the patronage at the outdoor event away, people who stayed enjoyed the tasty menu. “Our most positive feedback was about the alligator-rabbit gumbo,” he said, adding that some people went for the more “conservative” option — cricket brownies.

Attendees enjoy desserts including chocolate chip cookies, bread budding, and the popular cricket brownies. ©Allan Gonzalez

Attendees enjoy desserts including chocolate chip cookies, bread budding, and the popular cricket brownies. ©Allan Gonzalez

The proceeds of the event went to helping chapter members pay for travel to attend various wildlife conferences, conclaves and other outreach activities. Further, some of the money goes toward paying for gas for a school van that the chapter uses on field days.

Akers is now developing ideas for more chapter events, one of which is a joint event with the university’ marine biology club to cull lionfish.

But the wild meat feast will always be one of the chapter’s favorite activities. “I’m looking forward to next year,” Akers said.

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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