New cohort of “naturalists-in-training” complete intensive Wildlife Science Summer Program

Each summer, the Wildlife Science Summer Programs introduce high school students to the world of Wildlife Biology and Wildlife Rehabilitation through two weeks of intensive instruction in the field. For two weeks, these campers live life like Lees-McRae students, staying in campus housing, utilizing the college’s academic resources and facilities, and being instructed by program faculty.

This year’s schedule was packed with all kinds of unique experiences, fun lessons, and exciting field trips to get campersotherwise known as “naturalists-in-training”acquainted with the area and with the ropes of wildlife biology. On campus, campers conducted experiments and participated in labs.

In the Elk Valley Preserve they learned the basics of mammal trapping…

and they caught a few reptile and amphibian friends along the way.

Learning some of the most fundamental skills necessary for studying and researching animals is a key part of the Wildlife Science Sumer Program. While the animal trapping skills they learned are helpful on land, techniques like electrofishing are used in rivers, lakes, and streams.

Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology Thorpe Halloran led campers on an electrofishing expedition through the Elk River where they got their feet wet with the machines.

The naturalists-in-training also gained invaluable experience by embarking on field trips throughout the High Country, giving them a fuller picture of this ecologically and biologically diverse region.

They walked the Mile High Swinging Bridge and got behind-the-scenes looks at animal habitats on Grandfather Mountain…

and explored life underground at Linville Caverns.

At the Western North Carolina Nature Center campers toured exhibits, wandered the nature trail, and learned about the critically endangered red wolf, and they visited even more animal exhibits at the Greensboro Science Center

After two weeks in the High Country studying all things wildlife, campers, mentors, and faculty gathered for a celebration of what they learned throughout the camps at Jonas Ridge, the sister facility to the college’s May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is located at the home of Director of the Center Nina Fischesser.

The celebratory cookout was a time for campers to reflect on their experience in the program, tour the facility, spend more time with the animal ambassadors who live at the center, and enjoy an evening with new friends.

Each week concluded with campers presenting to each other and to their families about what they had learned. At the end of the first week, campers presented on a research topic they had studied throughout the camp. At the end of the second week, each camper presented about the animal ambassador they had worked with.

The Wildlife Science Summer Programs are held each summer in June, and registration opens in February. Know a high schooler who loves animals and is interested in pursuing a college degree in Wildlife Biology or Wildlife Rehabilitation? Learn more about this opportunity >>

By Maya JarrellJuly 03, 2024
AcademicsCampus Life