More on Latino Conservation Week — reflections from The Wildlife Society field course by Laura Lagunez
In celebration of Latino Conservation Week (July 11th – 19th), we’re acknowledging the Latino community’s strong support for protecting natural resources.
Today we’re acknowledging the efforts of our experienced and knowledgeable staff, who annually mentor a lucky group of participants at the Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society field course. Every spring, a group of undergraduate and graduate students arrive the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Kehoe Conservation Center for an intensive, 2-week immersion in wildlife field skills. The course has traditionally been taught by volunteer wildlife professionals in both the private and public sectors, who provide guidance and instruction in common wildlife field methodology and natural history of the Northeastern forest communities.
Students start with map and compass skills and expand on to common tree and shrub identification, early morning bird surveys, mammal trapping, habitat sampling, reptile and amphibian sampling, and hunter education training.
Averaging more than 10 hours a day in practical instruction, students also get a wide range of perspective on careers in the wildlife field from volunteer instructors. Career discussions often shed light on how unpredictable career paths can be in the wildlife field. After two weeks of intensive training and mentorship, this is what field course participant Laura Lagunez had to say about her experience:
“…My work and internship experiences have solely focused on opportunities associated with veterinary medicine. The TWS East Section field course has opened my eyes to consider other options related to the wildlife conservation profession. I was extremely interested in the tree and plant species identification and would have loved it even more if that part of the course extended to ethnobotany and medicinal plant knowledge. As a Mexican and Navajo woman, I have a deep passion for looking at social and environmental issues concerning Indigenous people across the globe. There is a dire need of building a greater acceptance and confidence between Western researchers and the social science methods used in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). My hope is that I will be able to bridge this gap by applying what I have learned from this course such as habitat mapping, radio telemetry, and GPS techniques to empower indigenous communities to participate in their own community based resource management and conservation programs.”