UND students reflect on state chapter meeting

By Lucas Knowlton, University of North Dakota TWS Student Chapter President

©Krista Lundgren USFWS

Seeing many of my fellow students get more and more involved throughout the year, especially at the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society annual meeting February 8-10, 2017 brought me an immense amount of joy. I always keep in mind that no two people share the same path through life. We all have a unique background that contributes to our life “story”, and ultimately how we perceive and respond to things today. Our morals, work-ethic, and drive are all shaped by the things we’ve been through and experienced thus far in life.

The Wildlife Society has given me a strong sense of community, primarily through the friendships and relationships I’ve made. Over the past six months I’ve seen many new friendships spark and grow, and I give full credit to The Wildlife Society for facilitating wonderful opportunities to connect and grow. At a place like the state conference, we see students come from all over with a great diversity of backgrounds, hobbies, research interest, internship experience, and goals for the future. Many would agree when I say that we all have one thing in common; an overwhelming passion for our natural resources and wildlife. This passion is something many will never understand, unfortunately because they’ve never gotten the opportunity to experience the joy of these wonders.

“It’s a great way to meet professionals and you get to learn a lot about the research that’s occurring in the area around us. Not only do I go to learn about other people’s research, but every year I have presented research of my own,” said Conrad. “Without the state TWS meeting it would be very hard for us as students to get our names out there to professionals in the field.” This was Nick Conrad’s, Treasurer of the UND TWS Student Chapter, third time attending the ND Chapter annual meeting.

It is my priority to foster this connection that we share. Being able to congregate around the common goal of conservation continues to bring us as TWS members together, making us a stronger entity. Whether it is an aviation student at the University of North Dakota (UND) wanting more time outdoors, or a fisheries and wildlife biology major planning to dedicate his or her career to the field, we can all reach that common ground and express excitement in the pursuance of our wildlife passions, regardless of how different our backgrounds may be. Getting just one person to fall in love with wildlife and the outdoors is a notable feat. Years later, that person may introduce their children or someone they know to these resources in hopes that they too will find happiness from the outdoors. If we can’t conserve our wildlife and promote outdoor recreation for future generations, then there will be no demand or appreciation for it. As less and less people appreciate these resources, there will be less and less advocation for funding. It’s scary to think that future generations may never get to experience the things that I have been fortunate enough to, which is why I am so thankful for and confident in actions of The Wildlife Society.

“I love hearing the different presentations about the current research that is taking place within North Dakota,” said Amor. “It allows me to have a better understanding of what is going on. Being from Florida, I did not grow up in North Dakota so I really enjoy hearing about local research and to be more aware of what is happening in conservation at the state level.” Attending the North Dakota annual meeting allows UND student Jacqueline Amor to network with professionals and professors at different universities, and ask questions about current research and job opportunities.

As we came together at the North Dakota TWS annual meeting in a time of uncertainty for the things we love, we were surrounded by those who share our same passion. Hearing from so many respected professionals and leaders reminded us that there are still many people that care as much as we do. We’ve overcome adversity such as this in the past, and this just another opportunity to do so. We are capable of great things when we come together.

I want to say thank you to the North Dakota Chapter for a wonderful conference!