Virginia Tech grad students share love of wildlife with young people

TWS member Brogan Holcombe leads Wildlife Viewing Club participants in an activity that involved making clay molds of wildlife footprints. The students learned about footprints and other examples of “mammal clues” that might tell them if an animal had been traveling through or foraging in an area. Credit: Will Pfeil/Virginia Tech.

Graduate students at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment have turned their love of wildlife into a project to turn young people on to conservation. They created the Wildlife Viewing Club, which engages elementary school children in hands-on learning.

“I wanted to start the club because I didn’t know about wildlife until I was a sophomore in college. I didn’t know that this was a field that you could pursue,” said TWS member Brogan Holcombe, who is a pursuing a master’s degree in fish and wildlife conservation.

The students received a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources through a program dedicated to introducing wildlife and the outdoors to underrepresented groups. The program includes a “Scientist Shoutout” that spotlights a scientist from an underrepresented background.

“This has definitely been the most meaningful program I’ve been involved with as a master’s student,” said Emily Sinkular. “The ability to bring this to kids who might not have ever gone to a nature program or nature talk before really helps remind me of how I started in this field.”

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