This year’s TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg exceeded expectations, with final registration numbers topping 1,550. Of those attendees, 46 percent were students; a testament to the continued emphasis TWS places on student activities and opportunities.
In addition to funding provided by the Society, generous donations and support from various TWS Chapters and Sections and The 1,000 provided funding to 23 students compared to 18 last year. Here’s what some of those students had to say about their opportunity to attend the conference:
“TWS annual conferences draw the largest concentration of wildlife professionals to the same point in space and time in any given year. They are there to share ideas, network, and serve TWS’ mission to sustain wildlife populations. Where else would you want to be? Thanks for helping me get there this year.” – Jonathan Derbridge, University of Arizona, Wildlife Conservation & Management, Invasive Species
“The fact that I knew I may have assistance [getting to the conference] helped in my decision to submit [research] as I had no other funding sources. I was also impressed with how the society focused on taking care of the people who work in wildlife, encouraging and providing resources and advice to women and all young wildlife professionals that attended.” – Lindsey Hamilton, master’s student at The Evergreen State College, Environmental Studies
“I was especially impressed with the various events/opportunities available to young scientists to engage with and learn from professionals in the field. I attended the Resume Review, symposium for Careers in USDA Forest Service and APHIS Wildlife Services, and the networking events – all great opportunities.” – Tessa Tjepkes, master’s student at University of Minnesota – Duluth, Integrated Biosciences Program
“The people I met and events I attended were ones that will stick with me for a long time to come. One particular panel discussion that I thought was very informative was the Uncertainty of an Undergrad: Navigating the Maze of Employment and Career Opportunities. This discussion really answered a lot of questions I had that ranged from how to find the best job for me to when is the right time to go to grad school. The highlight of the conference for me was presenting my research in progress poster. It allowed me to talk to professionals and students that shared common interests with me and it made for a really great experience. As a first year attendee, I thought the conference was completely beneficial to my future in the wildlife field. I think this conference should be a must do for all students or early career professionals.” – Austin Wieseler, South Dakota State University, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (focus in big game management)
“I really enjoyed the conference! As I finish my master’s, I am seeking PhD projects and professors to work with, and this meeting gave me an opportunity to meet some of those professors face-to-face, something that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to do before applying to programs.” – Jessica Rick, master’s student at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, Integrated Biosciences program.
“This is the kind of conference where you want to go and make a good impression. You should have a good idea of what you want to talk about and you should be able to lay that out very thoroughly in your application so that you already have an idea…. I think there’s always a good range of talks at TWS, and I really appreciate that. This particular conference is hugely important for undergraduate and graduate students. For me going to this conference, I had just finished up my PhD and I was able to look at the job board; I was able to talk to some people who had ideas about jobs that I hadn’t heard of yet.” – David Kalb, PhD candidate at University of Delaware
“I always leave the conference excited for the possible new directions to take my research. The more of these conferences I attend, the more valuable the networking events become.” – Jacob Haus, PhD student at University of Delaware, Wildlife Ecology
“I thought the Night at the Museum Networking Event offered a great opportunity to meet other students and professionals in a less formal environment. It is rare that you can get 1500 wildlife professionals together in the same location and the amount of skills and experience that is represented at a TWS conference is fantastic for anyone just beginning in the wildlife field.” – Mark McAlister, master’s student at North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
“It was a great networking opportunity as I got to reconnect with old friends and colleagues as well as meet new ones. I also really enjoyed the Night at the Museum networking event. The venue provided lots of stimulating conversation with all of the exhibits. This conference is invaluable for students and early career professionals.” – Alexander Kumar, graduate student at North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
“I enjoyed sessions that resulted in short discussions afterwards, such as the climate change session. It was obvious that the group of researchers were collaborative and genuinely interested in other researchers’ thoughts. It was also nice to put faces to names for people that I had previously emailed for project ideas, etc.” – Annie Loosen, master’s student at University of Alberta
“This was my first time attending The Wildlife Society conference and it was a wonderful experience. At the Leadership Institute Reception I met [Southwest Section Representative to Council] Fidel Hernández who seemed to quickly become my advocate. Throughout the conference he continued to introduce me to other Wildlife Society members he felt had similar interests or may know some of the same people I knew. He really made me feel welcome as a newcomer to the organization. I had the pleasure of attending all three field trips… but my favorite part of all three field trips was getting to throw the atlatl at FortWhyte Alive. It’s something I had never done before and I was surprisingly good at it! Wildlife is essential for a functional planet. And, wildlife matters because they’re awesome. ☺” – Caitlin Curry, PhD student at Texas A&M University, Genetics, Conservation and Population Genetics
“I thought the opening plenary session was perfect for this year’s conference theme. Not only did the speakers do an excellent job of explaining why wildlife matters, but they represented a wide range of viewpoints on the issue of natural resources management and protection. The result was a thought-provoking set of talks that got everyone in the audience excited for all of the conference discussions that were to come. It is important for young scientists to be exposed to the different institutions and research topics that exist…” – Katie Robertson, PhD student at The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources (Wildlife Specialization)
“I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. I met many new people, but also was able to spend quality time with classmates and colleagues from the University of Minnesota in a non-academic setting. I think attendance at conferences is integral to career development.” – William Severud, University of Minnesota, Natural Resources Science and Management – Wildlife Ecology and Management
“I think that the [Student Travel Grants] program is great! I told a few of my other colleagues about it, and they were not aware of it. I had a wonderful time; it was a great experience. It was also my first time in Canada so I was excited! Wildlife is my escape, my peace, and it gives me excitement to be able to work with it. Attending a conference such as this is very important to all people at all levels/stages of their career. They have something for everyone who attends.” – Talesha Dokes, PhD student at Michigan State University, Natural Resources, Fisheries, and Wildlife
To learn more about The Wildlife Society’s Student Travel Grants program click here.