Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I know, that's a lot of letters. I'm in a bit of a lull with camera trapping and other fun projects, so I thought I'd share these exciting upcoming events with the Blog World.

Myself and a male black bear in Addison, NY
February 2012. Photo credit: John Van Niel
While I was a student at Finger Lakes Community College in Western, NY I was able to participate in a truly unique course titled "Black Bear Management". For my entire life I have been infatuated with black bears. I will admit that up until 3 years ago, my infatuation was totally based on looks. I was shallow. Bears of all sorts are so darn cute!

But since participating in this class, I've grown to love them for what's inside. And what they do. And how they do it! Black bears are relatively common in NY. They are not found at an even dispersement across the state, and you are not able to hunt them just everywhere yet. But, they are conspicuous and pretty darn cool. So when they ARE around, you know it.

The one part of BBM that I want to share briefly is this project of studying a particular marking behavior that black bears do. If you'd like more information on the specifics, see here and here.

Through a grant that jim Hewlett, a faculty member at FLCC wrote, the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative through the National Science Foundation was born. CCURI has been influencing undergrads across the nation for the past 2 years, and I was lucky enough to attend the homebase college. CCURI funded not only the class, but funded a trip for my class to attend an area in Massachusetts where these marking behaviors were being documented by a couple of researchers. After that trip, the professor of the course, John, was so excited about what we were learning that he urged us to put a presentation together to share it with others. I ended up being the only student left that following semester (Fall 2011) because everyone else had graduated. That's the problem with community colleges...high rate of turnover! Since that summer, I've presented at the:

·         38th Rochester Academy of Science Paper Session, Monroe Community College, Henrietta, New York, October 29, 2011

·         7th Annual Finger Lakes Research Conference. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, November 19,2011 (Awarded Best Student Poster)

·         3rd Annual State University of New York’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York, February 19, 2012

·         Northeastern Natural History Conference, OnCenter, Syracuse, New York, April 16, 2012

From left to right: Barb Dagata, the SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher,
Courtney Stein, and myself at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Syposium.
February 2012 - Photo credit: Beth Van Winkle 
And NOW I'm excited to share that I was asked to attend CCURI's very own national conference this coming March in Washington, DC! I will not only be presenting my poster, but I will be speaking to a group of students about the struggles and triumphs I've experienced as an undergraduate researcher in a community college. Even though I am no longer at FLCC, those 2 years were the best of my life so far and that is largely because of the opportunities I was presented as a student.

Also, back in November, I applied for the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) which is being held in La Crosse, WI. I, along with 2 other FLCC students have been accepted to present our work. Melissa is presenting on work she's done in the caribbean monitoring coral reef degradation, and Michael is presenting on methods of river otter scat preservation for future DNA testing. We are all honored and excited to rub elbows with other undergraduates at this prestigous event!
I have one possibly two more events coming up this year that I will be presenting at. One has not been announced yet, and so I'm going to jinx myself and share that...just yet. The other is the National Wildlife Society Conference being held this October in Milwaukee, WI.
I have a lot of exciting things coming up, and I'm very thankful to have these opportunities available to me.


  1. Wow, you are telling of your experiences and your knowledge far and wide.This is exciting news, and I am so happy for you, jinxed or not, also hope the next one says YES.I really enjoy reading your news each time, and learn a little more of your wonderful wildlife. Greetings from Jean.

    1. Thanks Jean...I always enjoy seeing the comments you leave me!

  2. I agree that black bear behavior is what makes me love them too! I found myself counting down until they wake up today. I'm working on a topo map with all the bear marking trees that I know of marked on it. I'm hoping to see a pattern to where they are. Two months and counting until my usual first trail cam photo of a bear!

    1. KB, isn't funny how things have turned out? Finding your blog back in 2010 was what really jump started my learning of these behaviors. It is so fascinating, that's why I'm trying to get out there and share it! I will be very interested to see your map if/when you complete it.


Thank you for reading and wishing to leave a comment! Unfortunately, due to a high number of spam comments being left under the "Anonymous" heading, I had to disable that feature. You may still leave a comment with a Gmail account, or under the OpenID option! I welcome comments, suggestions, stories, and tall tales!