Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff-
As I write this end-of-year note to you, we are awaiting news of who the president-elect will select to head key environmental agencies. This will give us some sense of how dramatic the shifts in policies related to natural resources will be. It will likely be a few more months before we see other changes related to agency budgets and international treaties. Given the campaign rhetoric many are bracing for major changes in how and to what extent American society will sustain its natural resources and the environmental quality of land, water and air.
The state of limbo we're in has been a time of confusion, reflection, and "taking stock." Many of us worry about what the consequences will be if the US does not engage in climate mitigation and adaptation, if the Federal Endangered Species Act is weakened, and if already meager federal research investments for the environment are curtailed. We feel a sense of urgency to have an impact and to do what we can to ensure things we care about are not irretrievably lost.
The students in my Ecological Restoration class this semester are acutely aware of the overwhelming odds we face when trying to repair environmental damage and recover threatened species. I hope that people selected to lead our agencies have some sense of this as well. As I prepare for my Wetlands class next semester, I wonder what the "shelf-life" will be for the information presented on the Clean Water Act and other policies related to wetland conservation.
Student interest in our current environmental policies has soared since early November. There seems to be an almost insatiable appetite for understanding what's at stake. Certainly, our transformational election has been a "wake-up" call that we can't take our environmental protections for granted. I sense that our students understand that they will be shouldering the responsibility sooner or later for trying to keep things on track or getting them back on track. I sense commitment and resolve.
Wishing you-and our society at large-peace and understanding.
In partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine, FWCB is launching a new undergraduate minor in Wildlife Care and Handling . The minor is designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge used by professionals and citizens who work with captive wild animals in research programs, zoos, or rehabilitation centers. The minor requirements include a supervised, reflective wildlife care and handling externship.
FWCB's Monarch Lab (led by Professor Karen Oberhauser) hosted the 20th Annual Ecology Fair on December 3rd, in Coffman Union (Minneapolis campus). Elementary and middle school students learned about the research process and shared what they learned at this annual event. This year's fair featured 60 research projects, each prepared by teams of 1-6 students. Over the past twenty years more than 4,000 students have participated! The Ecology Fair is supported by the National Science Foundation, Minnesota Office of Higher Education and University of Minnesota Extension.
On November 10, CFANS International Programs and Alumni Relations hosted a gathering to celebrate 10 years of the Thailand: Tiger Conservation and Vertebrate Field Methods study abroad program , led by Professor David Smith and Professor Francie Cuthbert. More than 30 program alums and current class members shared favorite memories and highlighted the multiple personal and professional impacts of the program. To date, 140 students have participated in the program.
Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) Nick Phelps was featured on KARE11 News explaining how indoor aquaponics works. If you missed it, watch it online. Nick, Assistant Professor Paul Venturelli, and Horticultural Science Professor Neil Anderson offer a hands-on course in Aquaponics every spring to meet the growing interest in urban fish farming and aquaponics. A video captures their launch of this course.
University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment recently named three FWCB Assistant Professors IonE Associate Fellows: Laura Dee, Dan Larkin, and Paul Venturelli. IonE Associates are early-career researchers who are developing engaged and interdisciplinary careers in environmental scholarship. IonEselects those scholars who show great promise to become internationally recognized for their environmental and sustainability research and to affect transformative environmental outcomes.
FWCB received several generous donations this fall that will make a real difference to our students. A donation by Dr. Chuck Meslow, FWCB Distinguished Alumnus, will provide scholarships to at least 12 students attending our summer field session or study abroad courses. Thomson Soule established the Janet S. Boe Leopold Land Ethic Workshop Award . This award will be given to students participating in a University approved professional development conference or event with a land conversation and ethics focus. Preference will be given to students who wish to attend the Land Ethic Leadership Workshop as sponsored by the Aldo Leopold Foundation. An anonymous donor established a fund to support invited speakers for the Conservation Sciences-FWCB seminar series.
To contribute to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242), firstname.lastname@example.org), FWCB Head, or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489), email@example.com in the CFANS Development office. More information about making gifts to the department can be found on the FWCB website.
Thanks to everyone who supports FWCB by contributing to scholarships, research, and departmental activities that include special lectures and the summer field session.