The Wildlife Society’s Southeastern Conclave took place Thursday, March 12 through Sunday, March 15, 2015 in Smith Mountain Lake, VA and was hosted by the Virginia Tech Student Chapter of TWS. More than 20 student chapters and over 400 students were in attendance for the long weekend of competitions, educational workshops, and networking.
TWS Conclaves take place once a year in various regions of the U.S. and Canada. The event provides college wildlife students with valuable hands-on training in wildlife management and conservation and networking opportunities with wildlife professionals.
TWS Wildlife Programs Coordinator Mariah Simmons attended the Conclave and was able to talk with students and advisors, and observe various competitions.
“I attended two of the Southeastern Conclaves when I was an undergrad and always found the experience to be extremely valuable,” Simmons said. “It was really fun to attend conclave again because the atmosphere is so high-energy and infectious. The students are so excited to be there, to compete, and to see familiar faces. You can’t help but be excited, too.”
The University of Tennessee – Knoxville’s Student Chapter placed first overall in the TWS Southeastern Conclave. University of Georgia’s Student Chapter placed second and Frostburg State University’s Student Chapter placed third.
Image Credit: Katie Schroeder
Competitions included quiz bowl, a team competition, game calling, and a variety of individual competitions (intellectual, physical, or artwork). Each student chapter was scored and ranked based on their performance in all team and individual competitions, with the team competition and quiz bowl having the largest impact on overall score.
During the quiz bowl, two teams of four players face off against each other and answer as many wildlife-related questions as they can within the time limit. Multiple rounds take place over a two-day period until only two student chapters’ teams remain. The winning team becomes the quiz bowl champion.
During the team competition, stations are set up along a trail and student chapters are allowed five to six minutes to complete the questions at each station. Questions cover a wide variety of natural resources-related topics including, but not limited to, plant and animal identification, equipment usage, techniques, and habitat assessment. More information on competitions is available here.
Students also had the option to attend a field trip or workshop of their choice during the weekend. The workshops were both fun and informative and included topics such as falconry, human-wildlife conflicts, camera trapping, and dendrology.
Darren Miller, the Southeastern Section Representative to TWS Council, was also present at the Conclave and acted as a moderator for the quiz bowl. Miller has volunteered as a moderator for many years.
The 2016 TWS Southeastern Conclave will be hosted by Eastern Kentucky University’s Student Chapter. The Wildlife Society awards a grant of $1,000 to each Conclave to help with expenses. For more information on TWS Conclaves, click here.