NE Section

Presented by Northeast Section, The Wildlife Society

Why a field course?

The Section views the training and professional development of students in college and university wildlife programs as a vital part of it’s mission. We have detected, through a variety of channels, the sense among our members that there has been a decrease in the amount of field-based learning that colleges and universities can provide students in the current academic environment. Specifically, few schools today can offer a “wildlife field camp” experience to their students. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the net effect is that though most schools do offer various forms of field-based learning through regular courses and labs during their semesters, the type of experiential learning that can take place at a field camp is not required or readily available to most undergraduate students. At a time when many incoming students have not had ready access to the type of outdoor experiences that shaped previous generations of wildlife professionals, the Section members think the field camp experience is more important than ever.

What types of activities will be offered?

You will be taught by seasoned professionals in each field and will learn first hand what goes on in the day-to-day lives of a wildlife professional.

This course will provide hands-on experience in a variety of skills including:

  • Trapping of small mammals
  • Telemetry
  • Use of chemical immobilization equipment
  • Map and compass use
  • GPS use
  • Wildlife education tools (e.g. Project WILD, Aquatic Project WILD)
  • Habitat mapping, bird and herptile surveys
  • Discussion sessions on careers and current wildlife conservation and management issues with professional biologists
  • Identification of common trees and plants

Click here to read John McDonald’s article on the field course, which was included in the November/December 2017 issue of The Wildlife Professional.

Click here for a blog post on the USFWS site from a past student.

The Section’s Summer 2016 newsletter features an article from a student that attended the course.

NE Section-StudentFieldCourse

What did students have to say about the Field course?

“I’ve learned more in the past couple of weeks than in any course I’ve ever taken.”

“This course was an amazing experience. So glad I came.”

“Fricken awesome!” This course exceeded my expectations. I learned so much, it has increased my interest in this field.”

“… I probably learned more in these two weeks than in my whole college career.”

“The hands-on and personal connection with the instructors was wonderful. I cannot thank you enough for such an opportunity that I will use for the rest of my career. Great job!”

“I feel incredibly grateful for being able to be a part of this course. Not only did I learn many more aspects of wildlife management than I expected to, but I feel like I’m more prepared and experienced in field skills than most people at my University who haven’t take a course like this.”

Check out our Facebook group with hundreds of photos of students and professionals in action at the Field Course!

Read a Report on the 2011 Course by John McDonald in the 2011-12 Winter Section Newsletter, pages 4-6.

What’s in it for me?

You can earn 3 undergraduate or graduate credits through Castleton University in Vermont that can be transferred back to your home institution! In addition, there are unparalleled networking opportunities with your peers and practicing biologists from across the Region.

Who is eligible?

This field course is open to undergraduate and graduate students, with preference given to members of The Wildlife Society or a student chapter. Recent graduates (either undergrads or graduate students) or returning students are also welcome to apply and attend the course. The course will be filled on a first-come first-served basis up to a maximum of 20 students. If you are interested in taking part, sign up early!

So, when is it, where is it, and how much will it cost?

*The Northeast Section’s Student Field Course will not take place in 2024; but plans are in place for a 2025 Field Course. Stay tuned here for further information.


For more information, contact:

John E. McDonald, Jr., Ph.D
Northeast Section TWS

Financial Assistance

The New England, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania Chapters of TWS, have offered full or partial scholarships for students enrolled at colleges and universities in those jurisdictions in past years. Check the Chapter websites for applications and deadlines.


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