BHSU students study wolves, wildlife during two-week course in Minnesota

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, February 1, 2016/Categories: 2016

Six Black Hills State University students attended a two-week course at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Minnesota recently. Students studied the ecology of grey wolves and other mammals, learned essential wildlife survival skills and physical and technological skills to track the wildlife.

Five Black Hills State University students and one alum spent two weeks in northern Minnesota this month, completing what they say was a "life-changing" experience through studying wildlife in their natural habitats.

The students enrolled in the Wolves and North Woods Carnivores: Predatory Ecology course at the Audubon Center of the Northern Hills in Sandstone, Minn., where they studied the ecology of grey wolves and other mammals in Northern Minnesota. In addition, students learned essential wildlife survival skills and physical and technological skills to track the wildlife.

Students' that attended the course included:
  • Casey Barlow, biology and psychology major from Aberdeen
  • Cailene Bovee, BHSU alum
  • Chelsea Goeden, biology and math major from Yankton
  • Ashley McCarty, biology major from Spearfish
  • Chad Uchytil, biology major from Rapid City
  • Rachel Wiedmeier, biology major from Rapid City
Dr. Brian Smith, professor of biology at BHSU, has been sending students to the Audubon Center of the North Woods for about 12 years. Students register for an independent study course through Smith and then attend the two-week course through the center.

"This is a great opportunity to directly immerse our biology students in the field to gain hands-on experience," Smith said.

BHSU is the only public University in South Dakota to send students to the Audubon Center course, Smith said. Students that have completed the course find invaluable connections to internships, careers or post-graduate work in the biology and conservation field.

"Our connection with BHSU keeps growing and it is now, consistently, one of the most represented schools in our course, which attracts students from across the United States," said Bryan Wood, executive director of the Audubon Center of the North Woods. "The students bring divers perspective, and they are very interested and experience in wildlife."

"This course opened the doors to so many connections from the researchers we met to the students in the class," said Cailene Bovee. "I've received an email from one of the teaching assistants about pursuing field work in South Africa, and I've corresponded with a professor who specifically works with bats in Minnesota."

Casey Barlow had always been interested in conservation and wanted to gain field experience to aid him in finding top notch internship opportunities.

"Conservation is such a competitive field to get into," Barlow said. "Working with other students and key individuals in the conservation industry provided networking opportunities for me."

Among the experts was Dr. David Meche, the world's leading wolf expert. Meche, along with other wildlife researchers, held open discussions with students throughout the duration of the course. Meche's direct involvement with the students is something Barlow will never forget.

"He's it when it comes to the wolf industry," Barlow said.

Barlow, who is only in his second year at BHSU, said being immersed in the field this early in his educational career will allow him to complete more internships to add to his resume.

Taking the two-week course not only offered additional educational opportunities, but it focuses students on their studies once they returned to BHSU, Smith said.

"I felt comfortable in this field, but now coming back to BHSU, I've never felt more focused and more determined to do what I want to do," Barlow said.

"I took so much away from this experience and the most important thing for me was the opportunity to network," Barlow added. "When an opportunity shows up, it's a smart option to take it. This course allowed me to find new opportunities."

For more information on future courses, email Dr. Brian Smith at Brian.Smith@BHSU.edu.
Print

Number of views (358)/Comments (0)

x