It was a big night for the Western Colorado University’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society at an awards ceremony held during the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s annual meeting in Grand Junction March 8-10.
Not only did Western students take several awards for their research and presentations at the conference, but more than a few alumni of the University went to the event in their professional roles, either as organizers or representatives of organizations focused on wildlife conservation.
Western Colorado University’s Individual Student Awards
Alyssa Rawinski, a senior from Monte Vista, Colo., who will graduate with a degree in wildlife biology and a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate this spring, received the Allen Anderson Award for the Outstanding Wildlife Student. This was the sixth time The Wildlife Society granted the award to a Western student since its inception in 1998.
Brandon Skerbetz, a senior from Wichita, Kan., who will earn a Master of Science in Ecology degree this spring, faced stiff competition but ultimately came away with the Outstanding Student Paper award for his presentation on his master’s thesis work locating and determining whether Mexican Spotted Owls reside in the state, which was done in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management’s Royal Gorge Field Office.
Lauren Hirsch, a junior pursuing a degree in wildlife biology with a GIS minor, earned a $1,500 Jim Olterman Scholarship, which is awarded annually to support a college junior or senior who is pursuing a career in wildlife biology and management. The award is based on Hirsh’s resume, transcript, letters of reference, and a short essay.
And Mia MacNeil, who will likely graduate this spring with a Master’s in Environmental Management degree, won the best IGNITE talk, which is a fun, rapid-fire five-minute presentation in which the speaker has to present along with slides that change every 30 seconds.
The Western Colorado University Presence in the Environmental Management Field
Among the 20 students and faculty from Western who attended the meeting, five were undergraduate students in the Wildlife and Conservation Biology Department, eight were students earning their Master of Science in Ecology degree, and five are working toward a Master in Environmental Management degree.
But Western’s Wildlife and Conservation Biology program’s impact on wildlife biology wasn’t only represented among the award winners, with at least six Western alumni at the meeting in a professional capacity.
“We travel to conferences like this one, and it really opens students’ eyes to our profession and gives them a great experience to connect with wildlife biologists and professionals from all over the state and region, find job opportunities, win awards, present their research, learn how to apply for jobs, and socialize and network with other students and professionals,” associate professor of wildlife and conservation biology, Pat Magee, said. “The students not only learn a lot about wildlife, but they meet a lot of wildlife professionals and are supported financially through the professional society.”
For more information about Western’s Wildlife and Conservation Biology Program, western.edu.
Author Credit: Seth Mensing