University of Tennessee at Martin TWS student chapter wins award

By Dana Kobilinsky

Students stocked a pond with fish to put together a “fishing rodeo” for children. ©UTM Wildlife Society

After implementing its mission of engaging the community, the University of Tennessee at Martin student chapter of The Wildlife Society won the university’s Student Organization of the Year award.

These activities, led by chapter president Kenley Schwartz, included a spring cleanup, a senior preview day teaching incoming high school students about The Wildlife Society and a free “fishing rodeo” for children. Members also participated in homecoming, staffing an interaction booth with things to touch and feel as well as other hands-on activities.

“Our president had a vision where she really wanted The Wildlife Society to not be this standalone, by itself out in the woods, organization that people didn’t know about, but instead to plug in with the community,” said chapter Vice President Brandon Weber. “We followed behind her and supported her through that.”

Weber said other ways to engage the community was through habitat planting and restoring native forests by partnering with landowners to plant close to 10,000 trees in Tennessee.

“We have worked very hard this past year, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all of our members sacrificing their time outside of school to help us with projects and events,” Schwartz said. “This year we weren’t focused on winning any awards, our goal was to be more involved with our members and with the Martin community. I think this year I am most proud of the dedication that our members have shown, especially the incoming freshmen.”

Kenly Schwartz, TWS student chapter president at the University of Tennessee at Martin, led the chapter to earn the Student Organization of the Year award. ©UTM Wildlife Society

While these projects weren’t all easy, Weber said having a good team of colleagues helped. “I think always the number one challenge is communication,” Weber said. “But I think we have a good team of officers and chairs that really came together.” An important part of implanting their new vision was the social media chair’s role of getting messages out to the public, he said.

While Weber is graduating this year, he feels secure that he is leaving behind a good set of officers and chairs. “I was really proud of Kenly for having the vision, and I think someone that comes in should have a vision for what they want the student chapter to be,” Weber said. “And my hope is they continue to have that vision, good teamwork and effort.”

Schwartz has also enjoyed the experiences she’s gained as the chapter’s president. “This chapter has been a place for me to gain extra experiences outside of the classroom, make some of the best friends, and network with professionals that I wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise,” she said. “I really hope that all of our members really take advantage of these amazing opportunities and get as much out of our chapter as I have these past four years.”

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is associate editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

Read more of Dana's articles here.


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