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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Natural Resource Management turns out law school students, legal professionals

August 7, 2012 under CANR News

Renee Connor had wanted to be a lawyer since high school and thanks to the University of Delaware’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) program, she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Connor has been accepted into the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law.

Connor, who graduated from UD in 2012 with a double major in NRM and political science, said that after figuring out that she wanted to pursue a career in law, she had to decide which branch of law she wanted to study. “When I looked into environmental law, that seemed like something I’d be really interested in,” she said, adding that it made sense to major in NRM to pursue a career in that field.

The NRM program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped Connor in many ways but she said that perhaps the most significant benefit was providing her with enriching and diverse coursework. “I took a lot of classes in different areas,” said Connor. “I took economics classes, science classes and policy classes, and I feel like it was a good major to prepare me for law school because you have to understand a wide range of topics to do environmental law.”

Steve Hastings, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and at the Agricultural Experiment Center, said of Connor’s acceptance into law school, “Renee was a very focused student who knew she wanted to be an attorney — she worked hard to achieve that goal.”

Hastings echoed Connor’s sentiments about the plethora of educational opportunities afforded to those who choose to major in NRM.

“NRM is an excellent interdisciplinary major that exposes students to both physical and social sciences,” said Hastings. “It is this mix that makes it a great preparation for law school or graduate school in a variety of areas. In fact, which area to pursue is the hardest decision the students have to make.”

Connor joins a number of NRM graduates who have gone on to law school and become lawyers. Among them is Kristen DeWire, a 2004 UD graduate who works as an assistant attorney general in the office of the attorney general in Maryland. Specifically, her role is to represent the Maryland Department of the Environment.

DeWire said that she decided to study NRM at UD because of her love of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She also said that she thought she would be more successful in the policy side of environmental issues instead of “focusing on environmental science or environmental engineering.”

She also enjoyed the fact that the NRM major would give her a diverse group of classes from which to choose. “Being able to do analysis and analytical writing through communications, economics and environmental law classes, and from internship experiences, was really helpful in terms of being able to think critically and analytically about applying theories to particular sets of facts, which is a lot of what legal practice is.”

DeWire added that the science classes she took, from soil science to geology, provided her a head start when it comes to examining legal cases in those areas and the work has proven beneficial when talking with experts and preparing for cases.

DeWire also said that the small classes sizes, the excellent faculty and the “family environment” of CANR added a lot to her undergraduate experience.

Internship opportunities

One thing that Connor and DeWire have in common is that they both took advantage of an internship opportunity while they were undergraduates in the NRM program.

Connor worked at UD’s Garden for the Community, an internship she said she really enjoyed because it gave her a hands-on experience working outdoors.

DeWire had two internships during her time at UD, both sponsored by CANR’s Delaware Water Resources Center. The first involved working on a paper focusing on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the federal jurisdiction over wetlands in Delaware, and the second involved her working at the Water Resources Agency (WRA) surveying a stream running through UD’s campus and making recommendations for restoration.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

 

 

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Natural resource management internships sprout successful alumni

September 16, 2010 under CANR News

For students with an interest in the environment, the natural resource management (NRM) major, introduced in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1997, opened up a cutting-edge program that combined science, economics, and public policy.

Now, current students and graduates in the NRM major are relaying their skills into successful internships and employment with companies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Delaware Water Resources Center, IFC International and the Peace Corps.

“At that time (in 1997), the college didn’t have an interdisciplinary major, where you learned a little economics, a little plant science, a little entomology and wildlife ecology, and then took that background into the job market,” said Steven Hastings, professor of food and resource economics.

“The students in NRM are very good students, they’re very motivated students, and they have a passion for the environment,” he added. “They’ve got a lot of initiative. I think that’s what employers look for in potential interns today.”

NRM students have also continued their education in graduate programs all over the country, studying urban planning, zoology, environmental law, coastal zone management and more. The diverse and demanding major, which also includes courses on communications and ethics, gives students a foundation for advanced degrees in a variety of subjects, Hastings said.

“It’s a fairly rigorous major,” he said. “We had a student this past semester who applied to six very good graduate programs and was accepted at all six.”

Jennifer Popkin, a former NRM major, interned with the United Nations as the climate change coordinator after she graduated from the University in 2009. She served as the project manager of their global climate change project for six months.

Popkin said the intimate nature of the NRM program allowed her to interact closely with professors and other students, which led to numerous opportunities including an intensive research project.

“I spent the fall of my senior year studying how the trade and economic policy of India affect watershed development,” she said. “There were four students in total on this research project, and we each studied a different aspect of development. Part of the research included a trip to India.”

Kristen Loughery, also a graduate of the program, completed internships at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), AmeriCorps, and a private environmental consulting firm while at the university.

“NRM provided me with a broad education, which prepared me to work towards my goals as an environmentalist,” Loughery said.

After receiving a master’s degree in natural resource economics, Loughery was hired by the EPA, where she said “it is extremely important to apply my education in policy, human behavior as it relates to incentives, and general scientific knowledge, all of which I attained through NRM.”

Hastings said internships are vital in helping students to explore career paths and see the real world implications of the issues they study at UD.

“Two interns that were working for me this summer, I found them out in the marsh one day, covered in mud, swatting mosquitoes,” Hastings said. “I think it’s very good for them to get out and get their hands dirty.”

Article by Chelsea Caltuna

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.

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