This was a statewide conference for the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society held in the Pueblo Convention Center. There are only three schools in Colorado that are affiliated with this club: Colorado State University, Colorado State University-Pueblo and Western Colorado University.
“The theme of the conference this year was celebrating our public lands,” said Pat Magee, Western Assistant Professor of Wildlife & Conservation Biology. “The State Chapter of The Wildlife Society just did a public lands position statement to advocate for keeping public lands as federal, instead of selling them off to the states or privately.”
At this wildlife conference, students got the opportunity to see others deliver presentations. Two students from Western presented research: juniors Erin Blair and Taylor Stack.
“We have workshops, all kinds of talks and presentations from topics like lesser prairie chickens to how to communicate effectively,” Magee said. “We have a special networking event where students and professionals can get together, and students can make contacts.”
Stack received a grant with Thornton Biology Undergraduate Research Program. This gave Stack the opportunity to conduct his own research last summer. He researched the small mammal communities around Gunnison and the sage habitat.
“It was a great opportunity for me, and I got to see how science kind of works in the real world. I got to experience going out and collecting my own data, analyzing it and then writing a formal report on that,” Stack said. “I just kind of put that all into a presentation. I presented it at the school and then I did go to the statewide conference and present it there, too, as an undergrad.”
Stack was also the only undergraduate student presenting his research at the conference. He received a $50 check for having the best undergraduate presentation.
Blair is the new president of The Wildlife Society. During these annual meetings, the presidents of each school talk about and present what each club has done during the last year. Blair was also the recipient of the very honorable and prestigious Jim Olterman Scholarship that includes a monetary award of $750.
“I just presented a lot of photos about what our club has been up to. I had a list of all of the people that had come in to talk to us in our meetings,” Blair said. “Which was neat, because a lot of those people were at the conference. We were able to thank everyone that presented for us.”
There is a national conference in late September this year. This is where each state chapter of The Wildlife Society comes together for a bigger conference. This year, it is a joint meeting between The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society.
For more information about attending a Wildlife Society meeting, email Blair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Western junior Taya Olson.