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Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff--

Each fall as a new group of students arrives on campus we go through the ritual of orientation, imparting “sage advice” that we hope inspires and guides our students to make the most of the opportunities that FWCB and the University of Minnesota have to offer. One of the things we emphasize is the importance of getting professional experience beyond the classroom. These experiences help students apply their classroom-based knowledge, learn professional (i.e., workplace) skills, and explore career possibilities. We also see a boost in students’ confidence and self-reliance as well as personal growth and maturity.

Intl student presentationsEvery FWCB student completes at least one internship and many complete more. Here are some examples of the interesting places they go and the things they do: Earlier this year, Ashley Anderson worked on butterflies at Como Zoo; Thorsen Hsu was a Minnesota DNR watercraft inspector; Emily Newman assisted with sea turtle conservation with Wildlife Sense in Greece; Amy Workman served as a Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources restoration intern; and Ryan Keenan assisted NOAA with sea turtle monitoring in Hawaii and then conducted research in Swaziland, Africa. Our interns then share their experiences during a poster session held each fall which helps other students get a broad sense of the diverse possibilities and plan their internships.

Internships are transformative experiences for many students. Shalesa Johnson was a technician this past summer with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and wrote, “I am so happy that I finally have found my niche. From vegetation surveys to herpetofauna coverboard surveys, butterfly and bee surveys and more… I have learned so much….”

Great internship experiences depend on dedicated (and patient!) workplace mentors. Those who supervise our student interns, like Vicki Sherry, Shalesa’s supervisor at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, are investing considerable time and energy in training the next generation of natural resource professionals. They play a pivotal role in preparing our students to launch successful careers.

We’re also fortunate to have a great partnership with the CFANS Career and Internship Services team. We work together to guide students before, during and after their internship so they can use what they’ve learned to envision productive careers and seek their first “real job.”

One of the questions I am frequently asked by parents of prospective students is about job prospects in the fields of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology. My answer is always the same: professional experiences and networking while a student make the difference. It’s great to watch our students gain experience and confidence to complement what they learn in the classroom. We know they will be well-positioned to launch their careers. Thanks to our workplace mentors who help make this happen!

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The 2017 Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony was held on September 18. This year’s lecture, “How Global Change Affects Species Persistence,” was presented by Dr. Marie-Josée Fortin of the University of Toronto. Dr. John Magnuson received the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Monarch Joint Venture was awarded a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to support the implementation of a national monarch monitoring strategy. The grant will support national coordination efforts and will expand state-level implementation of the program to drive much-needed information to monarch conservation efforts.

The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center faculty and staff created an AIS Identification Guidebook that can be downloaded free or purchased through the University of Minnesota Bookstore

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Josh Poole (MS, Conservation Sciences-Fisheries and Aquatic Biology) and Hannah Specht (PhD, Conservation Sciences-Wildlife Ecology and Management) were honored with the 2016-17 Conservation Sciences Outstanding Students of the Year Award at the Kolshorn Awards Ceremony in September.

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Becca Nash, the associate director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has been appointed director of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).  She served as MAISRC’s associate director since it was created in 2012. The LCCMR is a committee of legislators and citizens whose primary function is to make funding recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature for special environment and natural resource projects, primarily from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Mark Hove and his research team of students worked with MN DNR to unravel the most challenging mussel-host relationship among North American freshwater mussels: What is the host for the federally endangered spectaclecase (Cumberlandia monodonta)?  People have been studying this question for nearly 20 years. Bernard Sietman, MN DNR, led the effort with help from Hove’s lab and determined that mooneye are natural hosts for this rare mussel. Undergraduate students who assisted with this research included Alex Franzen, Cameron Swanson, Pheng Lor and Avery Sampson.
L to R: Mark Hove, mussel research team members, Pheng Lor and Avery Sampson, and juvenile spectaclecase mussels.

Assistant Professor Nick Phelps and his research team collaborated with the DNR to diagnose an outbreak of Koi Herpesvirus, a virus of common carp previously not found in wild fish in the state.

Amy Schrank, Adjunct Assistant Professor, is part of a multi-university research team assessing the effectiveness of cattail management for improving wetland biodiversity in Great Lakes coastal marshes.  Many Great Lakes coastal wetlands are becoming dominated by invasive cattail species (Typha spp).  These plants grow densely and result in a large amount of leaf litter that piles up each year, turning historically sparsely vegetated aquatic habitat nearly terrestrial.  The growth pattern of Typha excludes other native wetland plant species and reduces critical habitat for biota.  Fishes are especially vulnerable, as 90% of Great Lakes fish species use Great Lakes coastal wetlands during some stage of their life - many for spawning and nursery areas.  This research is funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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We depend on your generosity to provide student scholarships, to bring visiting scholars to campus for special lectures, and even to upgrade our field gear and laboratories. To contribute to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242),, FWCB Head. More information about making gifts to the department can be found on the FWCB website.

Thanks to everyone who supports FWCB with contributions to funds that provide scholarships, fellowships, research and lectures. Your gift truly makes a difference!

Shalesa Johnson

Shalesa Johnson
2017 Summer Intern at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

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In this issue:

  • Note from the Dept. Head
  • Announcements & Events
  • Student Highlights
  • Faculty & Staff Highlights
  • Alumni Highlights
  • In Memoriam
  • Support FWCB!