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Crookston's Call at Workshop for Conservation Profession
Minnesota Ag Connection - 05/21/2019

He wants a career in natural resources, but Chris Call, a soon-to-be senior in natural resources at the University of Minnesota Crookston, knew he needed more experience. Chris Call

"I grew up on a lake where there was an abundance of wildlife, my dad works for the DNR, and I watched people participate in activities around natural resources all my life," says Call. "But, I didn't have hunting experience, and I knew it was important to my future to have that in my background."

An email from Professor John Loegering offered students the chance to apply for a 5-day workshop focused on hunting education, its history, and its place in the conservation field. That email spurred Call, Alexandria, Minn., to apply for the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow (CLfT) workshop.

"I needed a statement of support," he says. "My faculty advisor, Phil Baird wrote a statement for me addressing how this workshop could benefit me as a future conservation officer."

"The CLfT program introduces young professionals in the wildlife field to the traditions of hunting and trapping," says Baird. "Chris will benefit over and over again from this immersion in his field of choice and make him an even better qualified professional when he graduates."

When he was accepted as the only student from Minnesota to attend, Call was in for a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity. From March 15-19, 2019, he spent his time at the Wildlife Foundation, a wildlife refuge adjacent to the Aransas River in northern San Patricio County, approximately seven miles northwest of Sinton, Texas.

During his time in Texas, he went on his first-ever hunt. Hunting chukars, a non-native game bird in the pheasant family, with the 16 other workshop participants was truly a hands-on education. "While the workshop was designed to help us be successful in the hunt," says Call, "they also wanted us to learn the safety measures hunters must take to ensure they are not endangering themselves or others.

"The workshop gave me the opportunity to share a mutual passion for conservation with other students," he continues. "And, I felt a real fit within the conservation culture."

The participants learned hunting and trapping basics as they prepared to take the Texas Hunter Education Exam. While fishing was touched on as well, the workshop offered students education around the topics with which they were less familiar. For this group, hunting was clearly the area of focus for a majority of the educational activities.

The workshop, made possible by a partnership between The Wildlife Society and CLfT, was designed for undergraduate and graduate students interested in future careers in conservation.

"CLfT is a highly-competitive, national program," says Professor John Loegering. "Chris's selection speaks highly of his background and the quality of his essay and application. It also highlights the value of membership in professional organizations."

An active member of the Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS), Call knew TWS membership was a central requirement for this program. Professional organization memberships are a critical tool for building strong professional skills.

"Chris is part of an increasing demographic of students who are coming into the natural resources and wildlife fields with limited hunting experience," says Loegering. "Understanding harvest and the sociology surrounding hunting is an important aspect for future natural resource professionals."

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