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Student chapter hosts wild “beast feast”
From alligator-rabbit gumbo to cricket-filled brownies, members of the community got to sample a variety of delicacies thanks to a wild meat feast hosted by TWS’ University of Florida Student Chapter earlier this month.
Because many individuals don’t have access to game such as deer, quail, bison and elk, this was an opportunity for some people to get their first taste of these and other wild meats. “People were able to get out of their comfort zone, learn about what we do with The Wildlife Society, and get engaged with the community,” said Matt Akers, president of the University of Florida’s student chapter.
The majority of the meat, according to Akers, was donated to the chapter from different organizations such as hunting clubs in the area. The student members then have the fun of preparing all the dishes from the donations. “We ended up having 17 different recipes for similar items because people put their own twist on them,” he said. “It was definitely an opportunity to try new things.”
While the cold and wet weather kept some of the patronage at the outdoor event away, people who stayed enjoyed the tasty menu. “Our most positive feedback was about the alligator-rabbit gumbo,” he said, adding that some people went for the more “conservative” option — cricket brownies.
The proceeds of the event went to helping chapter members pay for travel to attend various wildlife conferences, conclaves and other outreach activities. Further, some of the money goes toward paying for gas for a school van that the chapter uses on field days.
Akers is now developing ideas for more chapter events, one of which is a joint event with the university’ marine biology club to cull lionfish.
But the wild meat feast will always be one of the chapter’s favorite activities. “I’m looking forward to next year,” Akers said.