Perfect 70-degree weather, food, drinks and excited wildlifers ready for fun and learning made for a fantastic opening night last night in Albuquerque, N.M.
Some attendees sat down at tables as the sun set, eating and catching up with old friends and colleagues. Others introduced themselves to unfamiliar faces, hoping to network and get to know each other.
“I’m looking forward to networking and seeing other people in the field,” said Morgyn Lincoln, an undergraduate student at Texas Tech University.
Lincoln and fellow Texas Tech student Sarah Hamilton had never attended an annual TWS conference, but they have been to the Texas Chapter meetings.
“I like that we’re branching away from Texas management,” Hamilton said.
Ryan Swazo-Hinds, with the Pueblo of Tesuque Environment Development, was also attending the TWS conference for the first time. He hoped to learn more about radio collars and new technology at the conference. “There are so many sessions, I had to highlight the manual for things that capture my attention and where they’re being held,” he said.
Lawrence Abeita, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, attended the white-nose syndrome workshop on Saturday. “That was interesting for me,” he said. “It was great. I’m looking forward to research sessions and trainings and networking.”
Others had been to TWS conferences and were looking forward to learning more and sharing their own knowledge. One of those people is Bull Dunn, an ecologist with Sundance Consulting Inc., who will be presenting his ideas at the Communicating Conservation Across Cultures Symposium. “I’m excited about cross-pollinating, seeing old friends and getting new ideas,” Dunn said. “We are a real community of hard-working conservationists and to rejoice in that is overdue.”
David Mahan, the associate executive director of the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, will also be speaking at the Conservation Across Cultures Symposium. “I’m one of the only aquatic guys,” said Mahan, who will talk about using faith when doing conservation. “Everyone has some kind of faith,” he said. “It’s what’s in our hearts.”
Past President Gary Potts said networking is one of the most important things about the TWS conference, especially for students.
Potts was at the first-ever TWS conference in New Mexico in 1994. “It’s great to see how this organization has grown, not just in numbers, but the things we’re doing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the next 24 years.”
Potts said the cultural diversity theme of the conference is also important to consider, and students attending agreed.
“I think having cultural diversity in wildlife is huge and very critical,” said Rachel Konkle, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “Having different perspectives is so crucial, especially with wildlife.”
Konkle hoped to see this perspective extend throughout the conference. “I’m most excited to meet so many of the professional people here that build the foundation of the discipline,” she said. “I’m excited to enjoy my time in this beautiful place called the Land of Enchantment.”
|Dana Kobilinsky is associate editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.|