Ohio student chapters thrive until coronavirus hampers efforts

These updates originally appear in the Ohio Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s spring/summer 2020 newsletter. Photos highlighting the student chapter’s activities are also included in the chapter’s newsletter.

University of Rio Grande Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

The University of Rio Grande Student Chapter kicked off the spring semester with a busy agenda and hopes for a productive series of activities. But the COVID-19 pandemic put a quick end to most planned activities as the campus closed and instruction was offered exclusively online. Before the shutdown, members attended conferences and worked on two field projects. Nine student members attended the Ohio Wildlife Management Conference during January in Columbus, and six members attended the Ohio Natural History Conference during February in Toledo.

The student chapter saw success in 2019 regarding the 50 bluebird boxes they had installed at a local family farm in 2018. The student chapter had installed the boxes at a local family farm, where over 200 cedars were removed from an old field area as part of an ongoing wildlife management effort. The boxes have been monitored during the breeding season, and in 2019, usage rates by eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis), tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis), and Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) exceeded 70%. In 2021, more cedar removal and hopefully a prescribed burn will occur at this site.

During late 2019 and early 2020, the chapter also expanded signage at kiosks on the campus Baby Moose Hill trail system — a project started by the student chapter more than five years ago. The members designed and installed posters at four new kiosks, featuring the wetlands site, wildflowers, songbirds, hardwood trees and the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) project. Before campus closed for the semester, the student chapter learned from invited speakers. Joe Moosebrugger of Crane Hollow Nature Preserve highlighted both the basics of a nonprofit conservation organization and effort to control invasive species on their property. Lucy Williams, a Rio 2019 graduate, returned in March to talk about her summer in Yellowstone National Park, working as an Ohio University tech assisting with bat research, and her current assignment at Ohio University that involved search for hibernating bats in Ohio.

Ohio State University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

During the fall of 2019, the Ohio State University Student Chapter took several trips to local Columbus Metroparks, state parks and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Each fall semester, the student chapter takes a November camping trip that serves as a time to connect with fellow members and enjoy the outdoors. For the latest of these trips, the students spent the weekend at West Branch State Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. During the hikes, members practiced their plant and animal identification skills while taking in some incredible views. Members also had the opportunity to volunteer with Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) by assisting in the preparation of planting of trees.

Members of the student chapter began the Spring 2020 semester by attending the 60th  Annual Ohio Wildlife Conference. The members had opportunities to connect with peers and professionals in the field. During spring break, the student chapter took a trip to South Carolina and Tennessee to visit Congaree National Park and Great Smokey Mountains National Park. At Congaree, the students experienced the largest expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern U.S. During the trip, additional short visits were made to the Audubon Center at Beidler Forest and Biltmore Forest. For more pictures, follow the student chapter’s Instagram @osu_fishandwildlifesociety.

Header Image: Sunset at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Credit: Yi-Liang (Lucas) Liu