Working with TN Universities to offer field experiences

By Erin Patrick, CWB®, Rabies Biologist, Wildlife Services, Tennessee/Kentucky

Wildlife Services-TN/KY present training on trapping techniques last year. Emily Eppstein, center, joined the WS staff in Nashville after graduation. ©USDA Wildlife Services

Over the past 14 years, the Wildlife Services program in Tennessee/Kentucky has provided a full semester field-based wildlife damage management course at the University of Tennessee – Martin, one part of a long history of partnering with universities to provide educational and mentoring opportunities to students working towards a wildlife degree. In 2016, the program offered a similar full-semester course at Tennessee Technological University. Having wildlife damage management professionals teach the course offers students unique insights, experience, and opportunities.

The students are introduced to the integrated approach to resolving human-wildlife conflicts and quickly learn there often isn’t one “right way” to resolve an issue. In addition to gaining useful field knowledge and techniques, numerous mentor/mentee relationships have been established as a result of these courses led by field biologists and technicians.

Wildlife Services in TN/KY also provides one-day workshops on wildlife damage and disease management presenting an overview of the tools and techniques utilized by WS. Biologists also often give guest lectures on specific topics of interest in wildlife damage management courses.

The partnerships between universities and the program is mutually beneficial. The students profit from the field experience, education, and expertise of the personnel, while the program benefits from having the opportunity to work with and educate future professionals.

Wildlife Services is a Strategic Partner of TWS.