The TWS Western Section Student Conclave was held March 29 – April 2 in Yosemite National Park. University of Nevada, Reno TWS Student Chapter coordinated the event, with assistance from TWS Western Section President-Elect Jeff Davis, representing the local San Joaquin Valley TWS Chapter, and from Humboldt State to support conducting quiz bowl. 42 students attended from TWS Student Chapters at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Humboldt State, Oklahoma State, UC Davis, and University of Nevada, Reno.
Participants enjoyed several outdoor activities during the 4-day event: assisting the National Park Service with a restoration project in Yosemite Valley, removing conifers to expand meadow habitat as part of the Merced River Management Plan; hiking to El Capitan to view the nesting site for Peregrine Falcons and up Chilnualna Falls as part of a 24-hour scavenger hunt; learning about local researchers’ wildlife projects for supporting recovery of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, Sierra Nevada red fox, Peregrine falcon, Mountain Yellow-legged frog, Pacific fisher, and American black bears; telemetry; a 4-day long bio-blitz; skits about John Muir and bear scat with a hand-lens for a prop.
And of course, quiz bowl, for which all participants were sorted into teams led by a student with prior quiz bowl experience so that all students could join in the fun. Team “Shasta Pack” won the event in a very close match against the “Manatees.” The gathering also provided ample networking time to exchange ideas about graduate school, career objectives, and internship and job prospects.
The TWS Western Section Student Conclave is appreciative of financial sponsorship from several chapters, whose contributions ensured the registration fee was low enough to ease participation. California Central Coast, California North Coast, Nevada, Sacramento-Shasta, and San Joaquin Valley TWS Chapters all contributed enough funds to cover the lodging fees at Yosemite Field Station. The 2018 TWS Western Section Student Conclave will be held March 28 – 31, possibly in the Mojave Desert.