Student Chapters in the CMP Section are keeping busy

©Joe Ennesser

Below is a summary of recent Student Chapter activities within the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society, which was included in the Section’s Winter 2017 newsletter. The newsletter includes updates from the Student Chapters of The Wildlife Society at Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska – Kearney, and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Student Chapter Updates

Colorado State University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

This has been a great semester so far for the Colorado State University (CSU) Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society. This semester, our Student Chapter has a lot of events and opportunities for our members to get involved with the club and connected with conservation. We started our new school year off strong by recruiting and promoting our student chapter at a couple of different University events. The first was a fall involvement exposition held by the CSU Werner College of Natural Resources that allowed for student-led natural resource and conservation organizations to promote themselves. The second was the Colorado State University Fall Involvement Exposition that is a general promotion of all student organizations. We were honored to be able to send students and participate in the TWS Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico where our president, Bryce Davis, was invited to speak on a panel that addressed generational gaps in the wildlife workforce.

The Student Chapter participated in some conservation events that allowed our members to gain some hands-on conservation experience through volunteering at two ranches. In September, the CSU Student Chapter had the opportunity to volunteer on a ranch owned and operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife called McGregor Ranch. The Ranch is in Estes Park, right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We removed thistle and other invasive plants from a creek that ran through the property. The goal of the project was to remove plants that increased erosion of the banks of the creek. When removed, this will restore great aquatic and riparian habitat for wildlife on the ranch. We visited Roberts Ranch, a private conservation easement in the Livermore Valley in early October, which has been an ongoing partnership with our sister club, Society for Conservation Biology. For years, both organizations go to the Robertson Ranch every semester and complete a conservation project. This semester we completed a project that delivers water from higher elevation natural springs to manmade lower elevation springs created to provide water for both cattle and wildlife on the ranch.

This semester, we have had very productive and diverse meetings that include speakers and activities for our members. We have had meetings that range from a movie night to a trivia night to get our members engaged and meeting new people. We have had speakers give a variety of different talks for the student chapter. These speakers included Greg Hill from the Wood River Wolf Project talking about his cooperation with non-lethal deterrents to discourage wolves from predating on livestock on private ranchlands in the Wood River area of Idaho. We also had Chris Kritok come in and talk about his work in the CSU ecotoxicology lab and give our members tips and recommendations for graduate school.

Some of our Student Chapter’s ongoing projects are still going strong this semester; those include our long-time Student Chapter fundraiser, our coffee cart. This also includes a raptor monitoring program and a camera trap project. Our coffee cart has been going for many years and was started originally as a long-term fundraising project for the club. Our cart has expanded to its current operation of being open 5 days a week from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. Our current coffee table manager, Kendra Harris, does a great job of keeping the cart running smoothly so we can provide a way for anyone at CSU to support the student chapter by purchasing coffee.

Our raptor monitoring program has been an ongoing partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to monitor local bird populations, mainly raptors, by conducting raptor surveys around Larimer County. Our main survey area is at Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, Colorado, but other areas are additionally surveyed. Our surveys take place every first and third Sunday of the month. CPW uses the data that we gather for their own records, so the Student Chapter is helping CPW keep up with its raptor populations in Larimer County.

Our camera trap project started as a student-led project that evolved into a project that the CSU Student Chapter has been managing for years. This project involves monitoring and managing wildlife cameras set up at a natural area on the outskirts of Fort Collins called Pine Ridge Natural Area. We do regular camera checks in the spring, summer, and fall where members can come and get hands on experience with handling camera traps and sorting through camera trap data. This allows members to acquire skills that they can add to their resumes or bring into their careers. This project does a lot of work with the local community, as well, because our camera trap project regularly goes into local schools and teaches kids about local wildlife and how camera data is collected, lending to conservation efforts. The City of Fort Collins, as well as CPW, uses photos and data collected from our camera traps to see what kinds of local wildlife have been entering the city, as well as monitoring those populations.

University of Nebraska – Kearney Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society  

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic school year, the University of Nebraska-Kearney Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society participated in many educational activities. Aside from monthly student chapter meetings, members got together multiple times throughout the year to partake in activities ranging from wildlife to political activism.

One of the first activities that members participated in was a day spent volunteering as a Student Chapter at The Nature Conservancy in Wood River, NE, in October 2016. Members spent a Saturday morning removing invasive tree species in a designated area of land within TNC property as part of an on-going TNC project to restore prairie land.

When the Student Chapter was restricted to more indoor activities throughout the winter months, members invited multiple guests to come speak to the Student Chapter. In January 2017, the Student Chapter’s first guest was Andrew Pierson, the Director of Conservation of the Rowe Sanctuary, who spoke to members about volunteer opportunities at the sanctuary during crane season. This area of central Nebraska is one of the top places in the world to view the migration of Sandhill Cranes, and the Rowe Sanctuary is a popular spot for cranes to land during the season, making the sanctuary a hot tourist attraction that requires volunteer help to run during the busy season.

In February 2017, the Student Chapter invited Keith Geluso, a professor of biology at UNK, to present the process of preparing a museum specimen for educational purposes. Through demonstration, members viewed the painstaking and detail-oriented process of preparing a rat for presentation to a museum. The presentation was both highly informative and interesting.

In April 2017, the UNK Student Chapter invited the final guest for the year, Dustin Ranglack, another UNK biology professor. Dr. Ranglack held a radio telemetry workshop for the members, first having members learn about the different collars and transmitters used in the science and art of radio telemetry, and then had members put this new knowledge to the test by creating a fun and challenging scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt worked by placing radio collars around campus property and having members group together and compete to find their collars in the shortest amount of time using telemetry.

April was a busy month for the Student Chapter, with members also pairing up with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Chapter of TWS to participate in South Dakota goat surveys through the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance. Members who participated in the surveys said it was a great experience and that they would highly recommend volunteering.

The Student Chapter didn’t just participate in activities that pertained only to wildlife. One of the final activities of the year was having members march as a group in the Kearney March for Science that took place on Earth Day in April 2017. Not only does the Student Chapter strive to encourage members to become interested about wildlife, but to become interested in actively participating in the local political events and discussions pertaining to wildlife, conservation, and science in general.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society has had an exciting first couple of months. We kicked off the new school year with our Welcome Back BBQ, Missouri Outdoor Expo, and Wild Fall Festival.

The newest members have had a blast and have been more than helpful with volunteer events on and off campus. We are very excited about this year’s adventures to come. The weekend of September

30th we headed towards Valentine, Nebraska for our annual canoe trip. We had several members help mentor at the Pheasant Forever Youth Hunt, as well as the Forestry Field Day. The Student Chapter participates in weekly Nature Nights at local elementary schools. This is a fantastic opportunity for new and older members to be more acquainted with each other, network with people, and learn more about the wildlife in local wildlife.

We have experienced so much already, and can’t wait to see what is to come!