The University of North Dakota’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society received an influx of interest from new students and new ideas. As a result, members have had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of professional development events. Our first meeting allowed members to get to know each other and learn more about each other’s individual passions, interests, and reasons for joining the organization. The following week, we visited Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge to begin the first of many field experiences of the semester. Jordan Young (USFWS), the Wildlife Biologist for the refuge, helped coordinate our involvement and volunteering efforts with the Public Duck Banding Night. Students had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the ducks while identifying the species, age, and sex, as well as learning more about the overall purposes of bird-banding programs. Students who had participated in this event in the past helped the refuge staff explain this information to the public.
A few weeks later, a group of students visited Turtle River State Park for some camping. They enjoyed exploring the park, relaxing, bonding, and seeing the beautiful Woodland Lodge- the venue for our year-end fundraiser, the Wildlife Game Supper. Another event that our members had the chance to participate in was electrofishing at Turtle River State Park. Aaron Larsen, from the North Dakota Department of Health, provided a workshop on electrofishing, its usefulness for monitoring aquatic ecosystems, and basic fish identification and ecology.
Fall in North Dakota provides a great opportunity to get out in the field, but the window is short. Another outing we conducted was a bird-watching night at Agassiz Audubon (NW Minnesota). David Lambeth and Matthew Spoor, two active members of the Grand Forks Audubon Society, were extremely happy to come out and teach us about their passions. We hiked around while learning a lot about the rich history of the management area. Everyone had a great time and learned a lot.
Most recently, we hosted a potluck and speaker presentation, welcoming Hannah Pritchert, a game management assistant for the North Dakota Game and Fish. Hannah spent time speaking with our chapter about the “path” that led to her current position, her previous internships and jobs, and helpful advice that she’s acquired. Students actively engaged with questions and discussion, allowing them to gain insight on beneficial professional development.
One of the biggest highlights from the semester thus far was attending the TWS Annual Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fifteen students (eight graduate and seven undergraduate), as well as two faculty members, spent a week at the conference. Ten students gave poster presentations, two gave oral presentations, and the remainder spent their time volunteering. This experience provided a multitude of opportunities for our members. The students who presented their research gained confidence, networked with professionals within the same area of study, and practiced communicating their research to a wide range of audiences. At the student-professional networking events, students interacted and engaged with professionals from a wide array of fields, gaining insight and advice. There were over 600 educational presentations, which allowed our members the opportunity to learn a lot about current research, and the potential future aims of the field. Three officers from the UND Student Chapter of TWS had the opportunity to attend the Student Chapter Leaders Luncheon, where they gained valuable insight on maintaining an effective and beneficial chapter. They also met student chapter officers from the surrounding area, who they plan to collaborate with on future events.
It has been a very exciting semester thus far. As we look forward, we will focus on bringing in a variety of speakers, hosting a resume workshop night, a graduate student panel, and more.