Note from the Department Head
Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students, and Staff—
At the beginning of each year, faculty members across the university report on their activities and accomplishments for the year, as well as propose plans for the coming year. What comes into focus when these are viewed at the department level is the significant role that FWCB plays in addressing critical natural resource issues in Minnesota and globally. Some of these issues, like habitat loss and degradation, are long-recognized concerns; others emerge, requiring urgent attention. Among these emerging concerns are the spread of aquatic invasive species, the decline of moose populations, and the troubling prospect that monarchs are slipping towards extinction. FWCB faculty are “in the thick” of these situations, leading and participating in teams tasked with figuring out underlying causes for these problems and devising effective solutions.
Having the faculty capacity needed to address emerging problems is what we hope and plan for. For FWCB to have this capacity over the next two or three decades, we must continue to have a wide scope of expertise within our ranks and hopefully even broaden our scope. We also must continue to have faculty members who sustain vibrant research programs in core areas of our disciplines regardless of the likelihood of future public interest. However, our FWCB faculty team of 20 (including our federal coop unit) is relatively small compared to many others at the university. So I am struck by the challenge we will face addressing the expanding range of issues we can already see on the horizon—notably those linked to climate change and increasing human population – as well as those that will arise without warning. I’m heartened, though, as I amass our research accomplishment for the past year -- they provide ample evidence of FWCB’s capacity to have a major impact on our current natural resource challenges.
FWCB Department Head
Ralph (“Rocky”) Gutierrez, Gullion Chair of Forest Wildlife in FWCB, authored one of the chapters in the recently published popular book, “A Passion for Grouse” (T. Pero, Editor), published by Wild River Press. His chapter is entitled, Drummer in the woods: the natural history and management of ruffed grouse.
Karen Oberhauser, FWCB Professor, chairs the Monarch Joint Venture, a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration in the US. At a recent WWF-Mexico press conference that reported overwintering monarchs now occupy only 0.67 ha (down from 21 ha in 1997), Dr. Oberhauser discussed the need for trilateral cooperation between Mexico, Canada and the United States to ensure that there is sufficient overwintering, breeding and migratory habitat in North America to support the species.
The FWCB Quiz Bowl Team of Erin Arneson, Kayla Stampfle, and Rochelle Day competed at The Wildlife Society's Minnesota Chapter Annual Meeting in Bemidji (February 4-6). This is the first time in many years that the University of Minnesota has competed in TWS Quiz Bowl.
The year started with some great news from one of our Conservation Biology graduate students — David Pavlik. In 2013, he had a birding "Big Year" where he asked for a pledge for every species of bird that he could photograph in the US during the year. He managed to photograph (not just see!) 585 species and consequently raise close to $6000 for the American Bird Conservatory. To top it off, he will be donating some of his matted prints to the Conservation Biology program for our travel fund-raising auction and dinner on March 31 (see below for details).
Read David’s blog to see dozens of articles written about the project.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
FWCB is a co-host of the 2014 Midwest-Great Lakes Society for Ecological Restoration Meeting to be held March 28-30 at the Saint Paul Student Center at the University of Minnesota. The meeting, which will attract practitioners and scientists from 7 states, includes research presentations, workshops, and field trips. More information here.
First Annual Conservation Biology Research Spotlight Fundraiser will be held March 31, 2014, 5-8 PM, at the Cargill Building on the Saint Paul Campus. Join us for an evening of Conservation Biology research and conversation over food and drink while supporting University of Minnesota Conservation Biology Graduate Student travel. The evening will feature a happy hour poster session, a shared light dinner, a series of short student research talks and a raffle in support of student travel to present research and to build collaborations. Attendance will be limited by the event space, so be sure to RSVP here!
There are many different ways to support research and educational programs of the FWCB as this newsletter’s highlighted opportunities attest!
Consider making a donation to the Conservation Biology Graduate Student Fund, which supports student travel to their field research sites and to professional meeting. You can either make a donation online OR join us at the Research Spotlight event on March 31 (see events for details).
The University of Minnesota Foundation has created a special opportunity for new endowment fund gifts or pledges – The FastStart4 Impact. When you make a new endowment fund gift or pledge of $50,000 or greater, FastStart4Impact will provide four years of funding to deserving students. Typically, an endowment fund starts small and grows over four years. But a new fund started under FastStart awards students right away, in an amount that is roughly equivalent to the payout of a fully established fund. After four years, your new endowment fund takes over and continues to help students far into the future. This unique program is a great way to provide a scholarship for a promising FWCB undergraduate student. New scholarship funds can be set up with pledges to pay the full amount immediately or in equal payments over four years. In some departments, groups of supporters (i.e., Alumni classes) have created a fund together. Commitments must be made by December 2014 to be part of FastStart. More information is available here. Or, call us (612-624-3242) and we can discuss the program options with you.
If you would like to discuss giving to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489, email@example.com in the CFANS Development office. Thanks to all of our past supporters!
Students at Itasca