Students win awards at wildlife conference


UND’s Wildlife Society was well represented at the North Dakota Chapter of the Wildlife Society Conference. Photo by Susan Felege.

Recently, The Wildlife Society returned from Mandan, N. D., where students and faculty had the opportunity to listen to cutting-edge research in the wildlife biology field, present their own research and learn how to communicate science more effectively.

The North Dakota Chapter of the Wildlife Society Conference had 20 UND undergraduates and five graduate students in attendance. UND had the greatest representation of any university at the conference. Students participated in a workshop led by Randy Olson, the author of “Don’t Be Such a Scientist,” on science communication.  Students had the opportunity to present their work to a room full of the state’s top wildlife professionals.

Three oral presentations, eight poster presentations and one video production were given throughout the three day event. UND student attendance at the conference resulted in several awards. Tanner Stechmann was awarded most outstanding UND undergraduate student. Alicia Andes was named the most outstanding UND graduate student award.

In addition, Nick Conrad (with co-authors John Palarski and Becca Kludt) won the most outstanding poster presentation and Nick Caswell (with co-author Alicia Andes) came in 3rd in the poster competition. Some of the undergraduates were competing with and winning against graduate students from NDSU.

Andrew Barnas won the most outstanding oral presentation and Becca Kludt placed 2nd in the oral presentations.

Lastly, there was a team of undergraduates – Will Beaton, Nick Sallen and Alex Aman — who produced a 15 minute conservation feature on Meadowlarks that the chapter recognized and wants to get TV air time to show.

Sitting Bull college is in the process of creating another student chapter of The Wildlife Society. Currently, UND and NDSU are the only other universities with active student chapters.

In an interview with The UND Wildlife Society President Tanner Stechmann, he discussed how he enjoyed the small atmosphere of the North Dakota chapter meeting.

“You make one connection with one professional there, and pretty soon you’ll have 30 connections,” Stechmann said. “It’s easier to talk to a group of professionals when there’s 24 UND students at the conference.” Wildlife professionals at the conference were eager to introduce students to their friends in the field as they learned about student’s interests.

During the conference there was a student luncheon and alumni social aimed to at student-professional networking and skill development.

“The alumni social was really nice. Facilitating that professional connection should be the focus of The Wildlife Society. At a small conference everybody knows everybody and allowing opportunities for skill building and development is great,” Stechmann said.

“This year they focused on communication. That was completely different from conferences in the past.I think we’re going to see more of a mix of communication workshops in the future, bringing in more professionals from different disciplines.”

This year’s conference seemed like it was more student oriented. The student luncheon continues to grow as it has in the past. There’s also been involvement with the board to create student positions.

“Seeing the student luncheon with over 90 people was amazing. I think we are seeing change where they are encouraging students more to become more involved —  in poster presentations, seminar talks and becoming a board member,” Stechmann said.

Nick Sallen is the opinion editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]