The University of Tennessee at Martin Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society engages members in various educational and leadership building activities to better prepare them for the professional world while still having fun. Many of the activities include habitat restoration, wildlife population monitoring, and community outreach, and also allow incredible opportunities for students to network with professionals.
The student chapter maintains wood duck boxes located along the Obion River. Once a year students will perform required maintenance on the boxes while learning about wood duck habitat and the impacts humans have on their environment.
In preparation for The Wildlife Society’s Southeastern Conclave, student members gather at the campus farm to compete in what is referred to as a “mini conclave” where participants can hone in on their skills or even learn a new technique. Skills such as radio telemetry, orienteering, bait casting, calling, shooting sports, canoeing, and dendrology are practiced and taught by upperclassmen to freshmen that wish to compete at conclave.
Additionally, students are able to participate in a skills day at a faculty member’s house where they learn valuable skills such as how to drive a tractor, how to remove invasive species, how to drive a manual transmission, how to operate a motor boat, and any other skill officers see prudent.
In the classroom, the chapter provides a host of workshops each semester to aid student chapter members. Speakers are invited to meetings to shed some light on their career and its requirements. Upper classmen also inspire freshmen with presentations on recent summer internships. In addition, a resume workshop is held in which students learn how to better market themselves for the wildlife profession.
Chapter activities also provide fantastic opportunities for students to network with professionals. Students partake in a deer aging workshop so that they are able to work the deer check in stations with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) officers. While working the TWRA check-in stations during the opening days of muzzleloader and rifle seasons, students receive hands-on experience with the officers and are able to help the agency during a busy time of the year.
Many opportunities arise in the chapter which allows students to reach out to the community through organizations such as Great Outdoors University (GOU), Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Future Farmers of America (FFA), and the 4-H Club.
GOU volunteers team up with program leaders to help introduce inner city kids to nature. Many trips are Saturday excursions across lower West Tennessee to do nature hikes, fishing, hay rides, and much more. A day outdoors helps the children to get away from their normal day-today lives, have fun and learn about the wildlife and plants around them. The chapter also helps out with local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops by providing outdoor oriented badge workshops. This allows the members to gain experience working with younger students and teaching what they have learned from their wildlife classes. Activities through the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts provide badge workshops geared toward wildlife biology skillsets.
This year the student chapter is looking forward to conducting a fun, information filled field day for high school FFA and 4-H students in the county. The field day provides members with another opportunity to teach outdoor skills that they have learned in the student chapter to younger students, teach the high school students about The Wildlife Society, and provide information about careers in the natural resources management field.
For more information on the UT Martin’s Student Chapter of TWS visit their Facebook page.
Source: James von Dollen (Publicity Chair), Brantly Luker (President), and Miranda Carlton (Education Chair)