The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point (UWSP) Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society recently hosted its first Leadership Workshop. The workshop was an idea developed by members of the board after identifying the need to seek out more leaders early in their academic career since we have about fifty leadership roles between the officers, board, and project leaders.
Other student chapters voiced similar concerns during the Student Chapter Session and student breakfast at TWS Annual Conference in Pittsburgh this past October. Therefore, we extended invitations to the other student chapters in Wisconsin (UW-Madison and Northland) as well as other student organizations in the College of Natural Resources, resulting in 45 participants.
Part of the leadership training required participants to take the Myer-Briggs Personality Test prior to meeting as a group. Students then met at the UWSP campus to hear presentations by Dr. Bernie Patterson (UWSP Chancellor), Dr. Karl Martin (Program Director for UWEX- Community Natural Resource Economic Development), and John Zach (UWSP Career Services). Chancellor Patterson addressed the value of student leaders on campus and in the community, as well as the importance of diverse leaders. Dr. Martin followed with a discussion on leadership and teamwork in the field of Natural Resources. John Zach finished off the morning by applying the results from the Personality Tests to types of leadership.
Participants were assigned to groups after lunch for afternoon breakout sessions. Each group had a UWSP faculty leader who facilitated discussion on the relationship between personality types and leadership style in the context of a team. Groups engaged in a problem-solving activity that demonstrated various personalities within their group. They then identified an issue from within their student organization, brainstormed solutions, and created action items to solve the issue. Following these breakout sessions, all groups then presented and discussed proposed action items with each other. These action items were recorded and distributed in a follow-up communication to all participants to implement within their own groups. The day ended with a closing statement from Dr. Scott Hygnstrom (Douglas R. Stephens Chair in Wildlife at UWSP and Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Wildlife) and the presentation of certificates.
Participant enthusiasm, feedback, and evaluations all indicated the workshop was a success. This was a huge learning opportunity for the officers and steering committee as we worked together to create and execute this event. We hope this is the first of many workshops and look forward to improving and expanding our Leadership Workshop offerings. Specifically, we plan to create a three-year workshop series rotation on leadership development, teambuilding, and conflict- resolution.
A special thank you goes out to our speakers and faculty leaders who helped to make this possible. We would also like to thank the UWSP College of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Institute for Wildlife, and the Wisconsin State Chapter for their financial support and encouragement of our efforts.