Waterfowl conservation focus of new UD Ducks Unlimited chapter

December 12, 2013 under CANR News

UD adds a Ducks Unlimited chapter to campusThe University of Delaware has added a Ducks Unlimited chapter as a new registered student organization on campus.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation and started in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when, according to its website, North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows.

DU has an active presence in the state of Delaware, with more than 6,000 members in now 16 chapters who have conserved over 15,000 acres of the state’s wetlands.

At UD, the chapter will have three goals for its members: fund raising for the national organization, educating the public about waterfowl and wetland conservation, and providing students with conservation experiences.

Chris Williams, associate professor of entomology and wildlife ecology and the club’s adviser, explained that because UD is situated in the center of the Atlantic Flyway — one of four flyways corridors waterfowl use to move between northern breeding and southern wintering landscapes — “we have an amazing resource, starting in New Jersey and continuing through Virginia, where there are a lot of wintering waterfowl.”

As such, UD is “naturally a central hub for potential waterfowl research and education,” Williams said, adding, “It’s exciting that we have the ability to offer this resource in terms of education and research for the East Coast as a whole.”

Williams said that other than a DU chapter at Yale University, there are no other university chapters in the Mid-Atlantic and northeast regions. “When you think about that flyway, and all those ducks piling down starting at Long Island, we have a hole in university representation, so it was perfect that we could add a chapter.”

DU has a youth education outreach component that is broken up into three groups: Greenwing, for grade school; Ducks Varsity, which is geared toward high school students; and Ducks University, of which the UD group is a part.

Williams said he is hopeful that the UD group can give back by educating those in the Greenwing sections during an annual statewide event in April, while also exploring other opportunities as they arise.

Through the program, UD students will be directly involved in conservation efforts, Williams said, adding that they have already taken a trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Chase Colmorgen, a senior majoring in natural resource management in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and president of DU at UD, said the trip to Bombay Hook was very interesting as the students “met with the regional biologist for Delaware Ducks Unlimited, a Bombay Hook biologist, and a UD graduate student conducting waterfowl research. We had a tour explaining Ducks Unlimited’s projects in Delaware and in Bombay Hook, specifically. We hope to do more trips like that, where we can actually get insight on how Ducks Unlimited is getting involved and how we can help to get involved with conserving wetlands.”

Colmorgen, who has been a member of DU since he was 12 and participated in the Greenwing program, also said that while some may look at DU as simply an organization focused on hunting, it is much more than that and he wants to help spread their message of conservation. “Ducks Unlimited was founded by hunters but it’s priority is for conservation, so we want to do a lot of hands on work — maybe adopt a wetland on campus or go out and do work somewhere around the state in one of the main areas for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). We also want to do a lot of education for the public and for younger people.”

Colmorgen said the University’s DU chapter offers something for everyone. “If you’re interested in the outdoors, and you might not be a CANR student, we want to offer a chance for you to learn more about wetlands. We’re trying to do activities that pretty much cover anything that anyone would be interested in with regards to wildlife and the outdoors. We really just want it to be a group that everyone can have something to relate to.”

Getting DU to UD

Williams pointed out that the DU chapter at UD was formed in large part to efforts made by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Bill D’Alonzo, a Delaware resident who is on the national board of directors for Ducks Unlimited and who was named the 2012 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year.

“Both Senator Coons and Bill D’Alonzo have been interested in increasing our younger citizens’ involvement in Ducks Unlimited, so a conversation was opened up in the early part of the summer to extend DU to the University of Delaware, where a waterfowl research program already exists,” said Williams.

He explained that after a meeting with DU officials, D’Alonzo, Dan Sarkissian, director of development for CANR, and Mark Rieger, CANR dean, the decision was made to start a DU chapter at UD.  The chapter became official in October.

For those interested in joining DU, Colmorgen said to contact him or Williams and that DU will be present at the spring activities night — scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Perkins Student Center — during which students can learn more about campus organizations.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos courtesy of Chris Williams

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Rieger, Rodgers and Allen attend rural economy summit in Washington

May 1, 2013 under CANR News

Chris Coons talks with Mark Rieger, Michelle Rodgers and Melanie AllenMark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of University of Delaware cooperative extension, and Melanie Allen, a senior studying wildlife conservation in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, recently participated in a half-day summit on issues of importance to rural communities across the nation. The event featured U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), and was hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and featured two moderated panels focused on rural economics, infrastructure, and access to critical services.

The panel highlighted the economic conditions facing rural communities and the agriculture industry, and what role the federal government can play in ensuring long-term support for the communities. Issues discussed during the summit included the importance of investing in the health of farmland, natural resources, and infrastructure. Another topic of discussion was connecting farmers and ranchers with consumers, including individuals, schools, hospitals and businesses.

“Our rural communities are central to our identity, our economy, and our values,” said Coons. “Between our agriculture sector, environmental conservation, and tourism, it’s no surprise that Delaware’s rural communities are thriving. It’s important that we continue to facilitate an open dialogue between our rural communities and our elected officials to ensure we aren’t hindering their growth and development. I thank the members of the University of Delaware for attending today’s event and sharing their views on how we can strengthen our state’s rural areas.”

More than 200 rural development advocates attended the summit.

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Emergency Poultry Disease Response workshop considers biosecurity, rapid response

June 26, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware hosted its fourth annual Emergency Poultry Disease Response (EPDR) certificate program June 18-21. The workshop, which was held on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) campus, was aimed at teaching both local and international participants about preparedness planning, biosecurity and assessment, and rapid response techniques and technology with regard to avian disease outbreaks.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza Coordinated Agriculture Project 2, this year’s workshop included participants from all over the globe. Thirteen countries were represented, including Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Bolivia, Mexico and Japan.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons spoke at the opening of the event, talking about the importance of having strong measures in place to curb any avian disease outbreaks and praising UD for its role in helping educate local and international audiences on the topic.

“I am thrilled that the University of Delaware continues to sponsor and support this unique program,” Coons said. “As we’ve learned, avian influenza and other challenges to poultry health and poultry management are truly global. They spread quickly, they spread globally and they present a threat to all of us.”

Coons talked about the importance of collaboration, saying there are important technical aspects in the management of modern poultry flocks that can and should be shared. “My hope is that you will go home having had a great four-day experience and saying to folks, ‘You ought to sign up, because this was an amazing experience,’ and then sharing ideas about how we can continue to strengthen and broaden a global community that is committed to feeding the many, many people who need what poultry brings.

“I just want to thank the University of Delaware for hosting this and for having such a positive global orientation, and for [their] national leadership role in making sure that we’re all able to deliver a secure poultry future,” Coons said.

Eric Benson, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS), explained that the course came about during international efforts in Romania and Bulgaria and that it is adjusted every year based on changes in avian disease understanding.

Benson said feedback from past participants in the course has been positive, with many saying it “really helped them to make changes” in their understanding of the subject.

George Irvine, of UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies, explained to the participants that they will soon be joining a group of poultry and veterinary professionals from across the world who are alumni of the program, and that they will need to “engage now, but engage also with each other later, because we can only work together on these problems, which are global. Disease doesn’t define borders, it steps right across them.”

During the intensive four-day workshop, participants received instruction from UD faculty members on things such as influenza viruses and detection, hands on surveillance swabbing and learned about equipment disinfection.

The workshop wrapped up on Thursday, June 21, with Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, and Jack Gelb, chair of ANFS, handing out certificates to the participants, signifying that they had completed the course and that they are now official alumni of the EPDR program.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

 

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