Wildlifers rock out at Rock Hall Opening Event

Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” played in the background as wildlifers swarmed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday evening, ready to delve into the history of rock ’n’ roll with their fellow wildlifers.

But among the displays of artists’ guitars, clothes and accessories, the event had another purpose — networking. All kinds of attendees from students to retirees were ready to kick off the conference at the opening event by meeting and mingling with other wildlifers.

“I am excited to reconnect with old colleagues and connect with new ones,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

On the flip side, wildlife professionals already years into their careers were also excited to connect with students. Bill Rudd, a project manager and co-founder of the Wyoming Migration Initiative at the University of Wyoming, said his favorite part about the conference is meeting the students.

As attendees traveled up the escalators, learning about different eras of music and enjoying drinks and munching on pretzels and popcorn, they reflected on what else they’re looking forward to in the week ahead. Some students, like Kendall Calhoun, a student at UC, Berkeley, is looking forward to getting feedback on his project that looks at wildlife interactions. Attendee Cassandra Gorman is also looking forward to interacting with more seasoned professionals.

“Guidance is what I’m most looking forward to, to find a path for where to go next,” Gorman said. “I thought I was the only one in the biology field finding where I want to go.”

Colleen Hartel, the new student liaison to TWS Council, hopes to get more student participation out of the conference. “I’m really excited for stepping into my role as student liaison and representative and creating a society that encourages participation for the long term,” she said.

Other professionals look forward to integrating different disciplines within the wildlife field. Jared Duquette, with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said he has already seen this at the R3 symposium that he spoke at on Monday. “One of my main goals here is to integrate more cross disciplines with business-minded people,” he said.

But overall, wildlifers hope something they learn at the conference strikes a chord with them — not only at the Rock Hall.

“I’m excited to be reignited with passion for science and to learn about what else is going on in the world of science,” said Phoebe Parker-Shames, a student at UC, Berkeley.