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B.1-3: Education and training of future waterfowl professionals

Presented by Kevin M. Ringelman - Email: kringelman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Perpetuation and advancement of North American waterfowl research and conservation require continual recruitment of new scientists and managers. However, our education and training capacity of waterfowl professionals at the university level is threatened. Despite establishment of seven university endowed chairs in waterfowl, we face about a 40% decline in waterfowl faculty from 1990 levels, with nearly half of remaining faculty set to retire within the next decade. Regardless of how many of those positions remain waterfowl-centric, future faculty will need to reach an increasingly large number of students simply to maintain current training capacity and the need for waterfowl and wetlands specialists. This challenge arises against a backdrop of shifting cultural backgrounds of undergraduate wildlife students, who are increasingly from urban and suburban areas, often entering the program without practical field skills that typically are not included in university curricula but are highly desired by employers. Here, we describe how online courses can broaden the effective reach of existing and future faculty, as well as reach underrepresented constituencies, non-traditional students (e.g., working professionals), and increase workforce diversity. Additionally, we present research results from a survey of wildlife employers, describing how past graduates compare to more recent graduates, what skills are most desired, and who should be responsible for teaching those skills. We also show results from a survey of recent graduates highlighting the skills that they find most-used in their jobs post-graduation. Finally, we make recommendations for changes and additions to university curricula, detailing the success of field-intensive courses and internship programs, and providing an overview of the ongoing development of university hunting programs across the country.
Session: Who Will Mind the Marsh? 2.0 (Tuesday, August 27,13:20 to 15:00)