TWS Conclave Draws Nearly 200 Students to Adirondacks

By Matthew Fuirst, President of Paul Smith’s College Student Chapter of TWS

NE Conclave Professor Bill Snyder from Morrisville State College leading a mammal skull identification workshop.
Image Credit: Jorie Favreau

Paul Smith’s College, located in the heart of the Adirondack State Park of New York, recently hosted the TWS Northeast Conclave for the first time in the college’s history.  Approximately 180 students from 19 different colleges, including 15 student chapters of TWS, attended the event. The current President and President-Elect of the New York Chapter of TWS, Valorie Titus and Martin Lowney, were present during the weekend of events, as well as TWS Wildlife Programs Coordinator Mariah Simmons.

The plenary session on the first evening consisted of a panel led by Ben Tabor of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, with a variety of wildlife professionals talking about the “Real World” after graduation. Afterwards, a social was held, during which professionals, college faculty, and undergraduates were able to mingle and interact in a comforting north-country atmosphere. A small group of students and teachers even ended up gathering together to play live music during the event.

The majority of the weekend’s events, including quiz bowl and many of the workshops, were located at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center, a gorgeous facility with ample groomed trails, classrooms, and outdoor meeting spaces. While organizing conclave over the past months, the Paul Smith’s College Student Chapter realized that many workshops could be created to involve some relevance to our unique college and its one-of-a-kind location. As a result, some of the workshops included boreal birding, winter ecology, woodsman’s skills, entomology, and silviculture management.

 

Workshops were taught by senior undergraduates and faculty from PSC, faculty from Morrisville State, SUNY Plattburgh, and St. Lawrence University, and wildlife professionals from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and USDA-APHIS. Individuals from NGOs such as the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, Biodiversity Research Institute, and Adirondack Research Inc. were also present to teach various workshops.

Students also visited The Wild Center (a local museum) to learn about captive animal care, a state-run fish hatchery, and learned firearm safety at the local rod and gun club.

A photo competition was conducted and all conclave participants were able to vote for their favorite in the categories of landscape, plants, animals, and people and the environment. Even with the weekends’ near zero temperatures, all of the participants stayed enthusiastic and didn’t mind the snow throughout Saturday’s workshops.

Conclaves provide an excellent opportunity for students to travel to new places that they otherwise would have never visited.

This weekend has been a really great conclave, but I kind of wish I knew of this place, because I would’ve come here for college,said one of the workshop participants.

On Saturday night Pat Oelschlager, the student advisor for Juniata College, extended his thanks to Paul Smith’s Student Chapter.

This was the first year we’ve ever attended Conclave and thanks to you guys, I really think our students are now hooked on wildlife and Conclave as a whole,said Oelschlager.

Juniata College, located in Huntington, Pennsylvania, came in second place during quiz bowl, their first time ever competing. The University of Maryland finished with top honors, and the University of Maine finished in third place.

One of the main goals of Conclave is to excite wildlife students and demonstrate all that this field has to offer, which the student chapter at Paul Smith’s College definitely achieved during this year’s event. The Wildlife Society at PSC will continue to grow, thrive, and encourage students at the college to immerse themselves among the amazing community that their field of work has to offer.