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.

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The Wildlife Society Northeast Section Field Course — Class of 2015 with co-instructors John McDonald and Bill Healy

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.

Wildlife telemetry field methods

Class of 2015 participating in a wildlife telemetry exercise.

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Volunteer instructor and wildlife professional, Mitch Hartley, demonstrates songbird banding on a blue jay. Students also practice sampling common bird by sight and sound in early morning bird surveys.

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:

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Laura holds a Red Spotted Newt in eft stage. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (called an eft), and adult.

“…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.”

All posted pictures were procured from 2015 participants of the Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society field course — namely published by Bennett Gould.

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