Monday, April 15, 2013

Travel, travel, and more travel!

As an FLCC student, I often got amazing
opportunities to work “in the field”
with live wildlife. Photo credit: John Van Niel
As a student at Finger Lakes Community College, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in an undergraduate research study about black bear marking behaviors.

Coincidentally, a professor at FLCC, Jim Hewlett, wrote a grant to the National Science Foundation several years ago. In I believe 2011, FLCC was granted approximately $3.5 million dollars to start up the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.

This was VERY exciting news for FLCC, but the grant has touched students at community colleges across the country. There are the 5 Original Regional Partners, 26 other Partners, and 4 New Regional Collaborators from New York to Hawaii, from Washington State to the Florida Keys. Check out the CCURI Partner Page to learn all about what kind of research CCURI students are participating in!

I’ve been able to present my study of these black bear behaviors several times over the past 2 years. I started out with local conferences: the 38th Rochester Academy of Science Paper Session, the 7th Annual Finger Lakes Research Conference, and the 3rd Annual State University of New York’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. Then I attended my first regional conference, the Northeastern Natural History Conference. I was receiving great feedback, people were interested in what I was learning about, and I felt I have a valid topic to share with other scientists.

This year I applied to, and was accepted to, the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I also was invited to attend our grant, CCURI’s, first national conference which was held in Bethesda, Maryland.

Learning about bears was always fun for me, so it amazes me that I just returned from 2 national conferences, and actually while I was in Wisconsin, I was applying for another one! I hope to present at the National Wildlife Society Conference being held in Milwaukee this fall.

My study poster, which I use when presenting.

Attending these conferences, whether there are 150 people like there was at the Finger Lakes Research Conference, or 3,500 people like at NCUR, is always exciting. I love to meet people. I also love sharing what I’ve been learning, as well as learning about what other students are up to across New York State, the region, and the country!

Presenting at Montgomery Community College in Maryland. March 2013. Photo credit: Michael Blocker

Presenting at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. April 2013. Photo credit: Melissa Miller
CCURI and FLCC representatives at NCUR!
Melissa Miller (FLCC student), Michael McIntyre (FLCC student),
Dr. Beth VanWinkle (CCURI Project Director), and myself (FLCC alumni).

I know this isn’t a very exciting wildlife entry, I just wanted to share what I’m up to when I’m NOT in the field playing with bear cubs or camera traps! It’s exciting to be involved with something “bigger than myself”. I can not thank enough the CCURI team: Jim, Beth, Heather, and of course John. What you do, plus all of the other “staff” at other colleges, are doing, are amazing and progressive things for those of us who got our start at the humble community college.

(PLUS...I got to meet Trailblazer, and some of his amazing students!)

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