Mingle, meet, repeat, at TWS conference opening event

If you’re ready to kick off the TWS Annual Conference with loads of fun and entertainment, but also want to get down to business and begin making great connections with other wildlifers, you’re not going to want to miss the inaugural event at this year’s conference in Raleigh.

From 7-10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, all conference attendees are invited to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences — the largest institution of its kind in the southeastern U.S. — to enjoy drinks and dessert at the Student-Professional Networking event. There will be buses running between the Raleigh Convention Center to each of the museum’s two connected buildings.

The event will take place in the entire museum, consisting of two separate buildings including the Nature Exploration Center and the Nature Research Center, which are connected by a skywalk. The Nature Exploration Center has a different North Carolina ecosystem on each of its four floors as well as huge dinosaur and whale skeletons to marvel at. This will be a good place to go for more quiet conversation and networking opportunities, according to Lara Pacifici, a student activities volunteer who is coordinating the student events at the conference.

However, if you cross over the skywalk to the Nature Resource Center, you’ll notice a more energetic, open and interactive atmosphere. Here, there will be opportunities to examine specimens from TWS member Roland Kays’ biodiversity lab. The Naturalist Center, which holds hundreds of animal specimens including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and more as well as education material, will also be open for the first half of the event. Also on this side of the museum, the three-story globe-shaped “Daily Planet” theater featuring wildlife photos and videos will be hard to miss.

To make networking easier, Pacifici is also exploring a way for attendees to create more informative nametags that include details such as their area of research or work as well as their professional status. “This way, students can easily identify the professionals they might like to speak with,” Pacifici said. Students will also be given a short list of suggested questions that they can ask professionals to help break the ice such as a memorable moment during fieldwork, for instance, or a favorite mentor. Be sure to check your TWS conference app and the TWS twitter page (@wildlifesociety) because the answers to these questions will be posted with the conference hashtag, #TWS2016.

“I hope [the event] sets a tone where instead of it being the time when students are networking with professionals, it will be the start of four days of networking with professionals,” Pacifici said, adding that everyone — not just students — should make sure they don’t miss this opening event. “There’s something for everyone,” she said.

Header Image: The SECU Daily Planet can be seen from outside the NC Museum of Natural Sceinces. The TWS Student-Professional Networking Event will be one you don't want to miss! ©NC Museum of Natural Sciences