Hard work, field focus wins Texas Tech student chapter of year

By Joshua Rapp Learn

At the beginning of the Fall semester, Texas Tech University TWS officers joined the annual Texas Tech Ag Fest to promote the organization to incoming freshmen. Credit: Sarah Smith

One of the best things about Texas Tech University’s TWS student chapter is that its members often spend time out of the classroom and in the field. They work on a slew of different wildlife projects— from helping with white-tailed deer captures to working with purple martin nests. These kinds of projects have helped earn the chapter the 2022 Student Chapter of the Year award.

“Each of these students works really hard in [their wildlife studies],” said Madeleine Rawlings, president of the Texas Tech chapter. “I think the main thing they bring to the table is the passion they have for it so early into their professional trainings.”

Members Madeleine Rawlings and Justin Dawsey advertising the Texas Tech University’s student chapter at the TWS Texas Chapter 2022 Annual meeting. Credit: Sarah Smith

TWS student chapter members of Texas Tech are learning how to perform necropsies on harvested deer with private foundations and ranches. Others are studying the effects of artificial nest boxes on purple martin (Progne subis) populations. Some members of the TWS student chapter are monitoring humidity and temperatures in these next boxes to determine the effect on nest survival.

Student members pose in front of new purple martin gourds that they assembled at the Texas Tech Junction Campus. Credit: Sarah Smith

For the benefit of students, the chapter invites guest speakers about twice a month to talk about their work in places as far away from the state as Alaska as part of their regular chapter meetings. Many of these speakers are Texas Tech alumni, Rawlings said, which provides a positive motivation for current students about the potential careers ahead of them.

The various projects and efforts are often boosted by a healthy presence on social media—the Texas Tech chapter boasts active Instagram and Facebook accounts. Rawlings said that these postings help connect the local community with what the wildlife science students are working on. It also helps get the word out to parents, alumni and future students.

“I’m so glad that we’ve won this award,” Rawlings said, adding that since the announcement of the award came in, she has been receiving congratulations from wildlife professionals all over the country. “It comes from the true dedication each of these students has.”

Joshua LearnJoshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at jlearn@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about his article.

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