Western Colorado University chapter held meetings, volunteered and more

From watching presentations with live wildlife to being hands-on and learning how to propagate succulents and plant sagebrush, the Western Colorado University’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society had a successful year of meetings and activities, despite the hardships of the pandemic.

The chapter hosted 27 meetings over the course of the school year, through careful planning and following protocols. The pandemic even brought a silver lining — through Zoom, the group watched presenters from Maine and Wyoming they usually wouldn’t get a chance to see.

The club competed in the iNaturalist Bioblitz against other TWS student chapters across the country in a competition to document the most species as possible. The WCU student chapter came in 18th out of 49 competing groups, identifying 413 species and making 660 observations.

A night hike helped start the fall semester, despite having to be postponed to an unexpected snowstorm. The following week, our TWS historian, Jessica Miller, led a workshop teaching students how to propagate succulents, which they sold as a fundraiser on Earth Day. Other presentations during the semester included talks on falconry, medicinal and edible plants, migratory bird behavior and bat acoustic monitoring. The club participated in the Gunnison Public Lands Day, volunteering to help restore local sagebrush habitats. The group also benefited from a USAJobs workshop. Conservationists discussed the work of the Colorado Wildlife Federation and High Country Conservation Advocates. And members attended the virtual TWS Annual Conference.

A wildlife jeopardy game night kicked off the spring semester. Following that week, students attended in-person presentations on the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative and wildlife in Indonesia. The chapter’s most adventurous activity was a Quinzhee Snow Shelter workshop. Although the temperature was below zero, shoveling, digging and compacting snow kept the students warm and excited. Other presentations focused on mule deer, Colorado owls, and wildlife detection dogs. Members attended the virtual TWS Colorado Chapter Annual Meeting. Other semester activities included setting up game cameras to detect river otters, building bluebird nest boxes for an annual monitoring project, an aquascaping workshop, a presentation on blue heron research and a presentation by student chapter adviser Pat Magee on Voices of the Wild.

At the close of the semester, the group accepted nominations for new officers. The 2021-2022 team is Alyssa Rawinski, president; Katy Kellogg, vice president; Chloe Beaupre; secretary; Annatea Saylor, historian; and Sophie Mantooth, treasurer.

Header Image: The Western Colorado Student chapter of TWS learned how to propagate succulents and sold them as a club fundraiser. Credit: Western Colorado Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society