The Wildlife Society Conference 2007

Monterey, CA

January 31 - Feb 3, 2007

Front Row:  Haley Boehme, Darla DeRuiter, Ariel French

Middle Row:  Tiffani Wilson, Darrel Jury, Tanishia Shaffer-Smith, Jesse Braley, Elise LaVanaway

Back Row:  Michael Lippencott, Jeff Rockholm

Eight Feather River College students were able to attend The Wildlife Society Western Section’s annual conference recently in Monterey.  Over 500 wildlife professionals attended the event, with over 100 presentations to choose from.  Faculty members Darla DeRuiter and Darrel Jury coordinated the visit, procured funding, and accompanied the students.

Attending the conference “really helped me to better prepare myself for a career in the natural resource field,” said Tanishia Shaffer-Smith, an Environmental Studies student.  All eight students volunteered 8 hours at the conference in order to waive their registration fee.  The Sacramento-Shasta Chapter and the Western Section of The Wildlife Society provided funding for student meals, the student environmental club (FRESCA) contributed funds for student lodging, and Feather River College funds paid for transportation and faculty attendance.

One of the students, Elise LaVanaway of Greenville, had a paper accepted and presented at the conference.  The talk focused on her study of the decline of porcupines in Plumas County.  She had an audience of over 200 people, and later said, “The opportunity to present my research [was] incredible.  I have another really great experience to put on my resume.”  Elise was the first community college student ever to present at TWS – Western Section conference.

Other highlights included a resume workshop, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, viewing thousands of Monarch butterflies in their winter habitat, and seeing a gray whale spout in the ocean.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘thinking like a mountain,’ a reference to Aldo Leopold’s famous passage that encourages wildlife professionals to approach their work from a landscape level.  Topics ranged from Catalina Island fox recovery, to bighorn sheep movements in the Sierra Nevada, to northern spotted owl management.  Jesse Braley said, “The presentations gave me the opportunity to see what kind of work is being done in the field today.”

Students were encouraged to network with the many wildlife professionals attending the conference, and many made contacts that may lead to future job opportunities.  Jeff Rockholm said, “The conference enabled and encouraged interaction with working professionals to help a student understand and appreciate the life of a wildlife biologist.  This networking was beneficial and convenient as multiple prospective employers were gathered at a single venue.”

The Environmental Studies program at FRC aims to broaden students’ exposure to the interdisciplinary nature of the field and enhance opportunities to transfer to four-year colleges and universities.  Attending The Wildlife Society conference was one way that program faculty strive to provide students with practical experiences that will enhance their professional lives.  To find out more, contact Darla DeRuiter at 283-0202 x262 or dderuiter@frc.edu.