Monday, June 21, 2010

Ornithology 2010: From the Mountains to the Coast

The Fish and Wildlife Management students enrolled in the summer curriculum courses began their studies with Ornithology, the study of birds. The summer semester for our students is in a block schedule format, which basically means they complete the required contact hours for one class, usually 3 weeks, then move into the next summer class, and so on. This allows students to focus on one subject area at a time, while also providing additional time in the field and opportunities to travel outside of the Blue Ridge Mountains for extended field trips that wouldn’t be possible under a traditional semester format. Chris Graves is the Instructor for Ornithology and taught the students approximately 250 species of birds by sight and around 130 species by song. Many of the students were skeptical about their ability to see, hear, and learn so many birds and bird biology in such a short time frame. But due to the outstanding weather conditions and awesome diversity from the mountains to the coastline in the Southeastern U.S., the students were not only able to begin learning the assigned birds, but they were able to see and/or hear them while studying in a wide variety of ecosystems! It was an intensive three weeks, but the students gained a great deal of knowledge and experience from the course. Danielle Crocker was the top overall birder in this “birding boot camp”, so congratulations Danielle! This is a talented bunch of individuals that will someday help manage our nation’s wildlife resources. Special thanks to Dr. Dave Buehler at the University of Tennessee; Gordon Wells, Stan Wells and Bert Shiflet of Jasper County, South Carolina; Peter Range, Russ Webb, Jane Griess, Amy Ochoa and the staff of Savannah Coastal Refuges, SC-GA; Denise Parsick, Karen Whitehead and Friends of Hunting Island State Park & State Park staff; and Dr. Chad Bledsoe and the faculty, staff and administration at Haywood Community College. Their support helped mold yet another group of future conservation leaders. If this stuff interests you, enroll now for this coming fall semester! Contact Jenny Carver at 828-627-4560.

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