The Wildlife Society Conference
Monterey, CA, September 18-23, 2009: For the fourth consecutive year, nine Feather River College students were able to attend The Wildlife Society annual conference recently in Monterey. Over 1500 wildlife professionals attended the event, with over 400 presentations to choose from. Faculty members Darla DeRuiter and Darrel Jury coordinated the visit, procured funding, and accompanied the students.
Brady Good, an Environmental Studies major from Westwood, said attending the conference “may have been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was able to make important connections with several people who can help advise me in my pursuit of a career as a wildlife biologist or conservation biologist.”
All nine students volunteered at the conference in order to waive their registration fee. The Sacramento-Shasta Chapter and the Western Section of The Wildlife Society provided funding, as did the FRC student environmental club (SEA), and Feather River College.
Volunteering provided excellent learning and networking opportunities. Edgar Perez, a Political Science and Environmental Studies major from Portola, said “My most significant experience was simply being a volunteer. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment in the fact that I had a part (however small) of making the conference the success that it was.”
Jeanne Barnes, who majors in Administrative Office Management, said “I wanted to make FRC look good and be proud. My [volunteer] jobs were perfect for my major. I just love helping out at the convention.”
Students have opportunities to interact with wildlife professionals during the presentations, social receptions, a student / professional mixer, and a job fair. Of the mixer, Brady Good said, “It was good to see that [wildlife] biologists are humans too. We were all able to mingle and interact on more of a personal level while obtaining the knowledge we craved. I was able to learn about river otters one minute then dance with a beautiful girl from Michigan State the next.”
Kelsey Summers, an Environmental Studies major from Pennsylvania, said, “I met students from New York, who accompanied me in a volleyball game against students from Texas A&M and Humboldt State. Before this I ate dinner with a man working for USGS who was extremely knowledgeable on bats. Dancing with both my peers and professionals brought a whole new aspect to the relationship.”
An all-day student-only fieldtrip on the Big Sur coast was a great way to kick off the conference. “The opportunity to participate in [the] field trip was absolutely beyond my expectations,” said Diane Forsberg, an Environmental Studies major from Cromberg. “I was thrilled to be able to check the [small mammal] traps on the Carmel River and the bird banding lab at the Ventana Wildlife Society. I have never done anything like this before.”
The heart of the conference was the presentations, with over 400 talks to choose from. Zane Krakowski, an Environmental Studies major from Portola, said, “The conference locked my mind into the wildlife biology field. It really made me want to work with endangered species because of the talks I listened to. They were really inspiring.” Michael Willis, who also hails from Portola, and studies Administration of Justice, said, “The bison symposium was the most significant learning experience I had.”
Katharine Beals, an Environmental Studies major from Quincy, stated, “Most weeks in my life blur into one mass; rarely am I able to distinguish one week from another. The six days, however, that we spent down in Monterey are separate in my memory. This trip was one of the best I have ever had.” “”Thanks for including me in this great life-changing experience, said Charley Barnes of Quincy.
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 is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about The Wildlife Society, check out their website.