English primatologist and anthologist Jane Goodall once said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” At Plattsburgh State, the Wildlife Club does precisely this by focusing on its two main goals of education and conservation.
Environmental science major Michala Hendrick is the president of the club and has been with the club for one year. Senior ecology major Troy Tetreault is the vice president and has been a member of the club for around three years.
Tetreault and Hendrick met in their Wildlife Ecology and Management class. Tetreault reached out to Hendrick to join the club because he thought she would be a good fit for a club officer, and they have been working collaboratively ever since.
“It’s just something I’m very passionate about in my field and I think being in a science major, it’s important to communicate beyond our discipline, to engage with other people on campus that aren’t within our major but that share a love for something that’s so huge in our lives I think is really important,” Hendrick said.
With around 20 regular members per semester and a few extra that come and go, meetings start with book-keeping and club feedback. The club also talks about what is upcoming and who wants to participate in events. Meetings usually end with a video and discussion.
“We’re both really passionate about wildlife,” Tetreault said. “We really like to share our experiences as well as other people’s experiences with the greater campus community.”
The Wildlife Club attends and participates in events on campus, like open houses and Ecofest, an annual Earth Week event sponsored by the Environmental Action Committee. It also takes trips to Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Swanton, Vermont, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, Vermont and the Tupper Lake Wild Center. The club also does makes birdhouses, manages osprey platforms and goes owling.
Owling is a popular trip that the club participates in. Owling happens at night with Mark Manske, owner of Adirondack Raptor, a North Country business that aims to educate the public on birds of prey in the area. Manske invites students from the club on an owling trip for two nights over a weekend where they catch owls to help in his research. Once the owls are caught, they are measured for data like age, sex, and species.
Nets are set up, and a recording projects a sound to attract owls to the nets. About every 20 minutes, Manske and the students will go outside to check for owls and remove them from the nets before taking them inside to get the measurements, and the owls are released back into the wild.
“[Manske] is an absolute character, and he has more passion for what he does than I think most people I’ve ever met,” Hendrick said. “It’s awesome. He’s just a great guy.He always takes the time to just really engage us.”
Recently the members of the Wildlife Club attended the Northeast Natural History Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts, last weekend, where they presented wildlife management equipment. They also got to talk to younger students who could potentially become future students at PSUC.
They also participated in A Day of Caring, where the club went and volunteered at the Valcour Inn and Boathouse in Peru. While there, they worked with the management staff to clean up the outside of the inn.
The next big event that the club is focusing on is its Student Independent Research Showcase. This showcase will highlight how students get involved in independent research on campus.
“Once a lot of the birds start coming back from migration, we’re going to be going out and cleaning out the bluebird houses in Ausable [Chasm] and then going birding with Dr. Burgess,” Tetreault said. “He’s a really good ornithologist and botanist. He’s going to tell us all about the natural history of the area and hopefully see some really cool birds.”
The Wildlife Club meets every other Monday at 6 p.m. in the Angell College Center in Meeting Room 5. The club is always looking and accepting new members.
“We’re a club full of passionate people about wildlife and the outdoors,” Hendrick said. “We’re always welcoming new members, so we invite anyone to come to our meetings or message us on Facebook to get involved.”