| 03.20.2018

Utilizing a natural resource – Speaker series aims to enrich fish and wildlife students

Three semesters ago, the newly-appointed Fish and Wildlife Sciences Department Head Lisette Waits wanted to give students the opportunity to broaden their horizons. That”s why she implemented a speaker series that brought fish and wildlife professionals to the University of Idaho campus.

“It”s really important for our students and our faculty to have this opportunity to network, interact and have interesting ideas from outside the University of Idaho,” Waits said. “My impression is that strong research programs have this kind of stimulating event.”

Waits said graduate students studying to receive either a master”s degree or doctorate in natural resources are encouraged to nominate speakers they would like to hear from.

The seminar series is coupled with a class in which students invite and host the speakers as well as plan their agenda.

“We”re giving extra benefits to our students by running the class at the same time,” said Christine Moffitt, Fish and Wildlife Sciences professor.

The hosting student is responsible for organizing food for a lunch with the speaker and graduate students, organizing their schedule and any accompanying tours, and introducing the speakers at the event. If the speaker has extra time, Waits said they try to schedule a Saturday fishing or hiking trip.

“It”s a really important part of their professional development,” Moffitt said.

Moffitt said it”s common for those in the fish and wildlife profession to be willing and happy to travel for presentations.

“I think it”s part of our profession,” Moffitt said.

Waits has experience traveling to other locations and said when a student asks her to speak, it”s a bigger draw to make it work. The same goes for the speakers UI hosts.

“They are even more enthusiastic about helping for a student-driven series,” Waits said.

The department brings in speakers from both fish and wildlife disciplines from varying places, including local professionals and those from Colorado, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Canada and Alaska.

“We”re branching out and trying to make things diverse,” Waits said.

She said their goal is to hear from some minority speakers in the field, both in terms of race and gender. Waits said fish and wildlife has low ethnic minority numbers and fisheries tends to be male-dominated.

“(We”re) trying to bring a diverse group of speakers to inspire a diverse audience to realize that could be them,” Waits said.

Topics range from a broad field of study down to a specific organism and be presented by someone well-into their career or someone new to the field.

“It”s such a broad area of scientific study, we enjoy mixing it up,” Moffitt said.

Waits said fish and wildlife professionals from surrounding areas often attend the seminars, as do students and professors from Washington State University.

“From inside and outside the university, we”re had really positive feedback,” Waits said.

Friday, Becky Johnson from the Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resources Management, will talk about her experience managing fish production systems.

On, Feb. 19, Scott Bonar from the University of Arizona will host a more career-development focused seminar.

The seminars are open to the public and held from 1:30-2:20 p.m. most Fridays in the College of Natural Resources room 10.

Katelyn Hilsenbeck  can be reached at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @Katelyn_mh

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