For the second time in three years, Susan Felege of the UND Biology Department faculty has been named The Wildlife Society’s Student Chapter Advisor of the Year.
An associate professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at UND, Felege accepted the award Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Reno, Nev., during the joint conference of The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society.
Both organizations are comprised of professionals in their respective fields and students aspiring to fish and wildlife careers.
Felege also won the award in 2017 for her efforts in rejuvenating the UND Wildlife Society chapter. The award, which is student-driven, says a lot about how Felege’s students feel about her as a teacher, advisor and mentor.
“I’m overwhelmed by it, to be honest,” Felege said Friday morning, Oct. 4, in a phone interview from Reno. “It’s super humbling to have this kind of recognition and repeated recognition. It helps me to know I’m really helping students and doing my job there.”
As I reported in 2018, the UND Chapter of The Wildlife Society was “pretty much dead” before Felege joined the UND faculty in 2011 and became chapter advisor.
The chapter at the time had about 10 students and $300 in its account, she said. Today, UND has one of the most vibrant student TWS chapters in the country, with about 25 active members who have been involved with a variety of professional development opportunities, including mentored hunts, wildlife photography, electrofishing with the state Department of Environmental Quality and collecting native prairie seed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
UND biology students also do well in poster sessions at both state and national conferences and regularly have among the largest student delegations at Wildlife Society events. This year was no exception and five undergraduate students and one graduate student attended the conference with Felege in Reno.
Undergraduate students Emmalee Woods, Sierra Schnellbach and Jaylin Solberg presented posters on research ranging from bison to duck nests and snow geese during the recent national conference, and graduate student Andrew Barnas gave an oral presentation, “Bear Presence Affects Behaviour of Nesting Lesser Snow Geese and Avian Predators,” based on his fieldwork at the La Perouse Bay research camp near Churchill, Man., site of one of the most closely studied snow goose colonies in North America.
Barnas also moderated a session on species interactions during the conference.
As she did in 2017, Felege credits her students and good mentors for the latest advisor award.
“We have a really dynamic Wildlife Society and some absolutely terrific students,” she said. “It’s their initiative that got me this award because they have to nominate me.
“It demonstrates the initiative that these students take, I think, and they’re doing it for their professional side, and they also do it in a way of thanking those that are helping them along the way. I think that says a lot about the character of the students that we have and the future professionals that will be taking care of our natural resources.”
Since 2004, only one other faculty has won the TWS Advisor of the Year award twice, and the recognition in that case was six years apart.
Winning twice in three years is remarkable, to be sure, but in Felege’s case, it’s not surprising.
The honor is well-deserved, and congratulations are in order.
Finley pheasant hunt set
With North Dakota’s pheasant season opening Saturday, Oct. 12, this week is all about pheasants in the Herald’s Sunday Outdoors pages, and in keeping with that theme, the Finley Wildlife Club in Finley, N.D., is holding its annual Youth Pheasant Hunt on Sunday, Oct. 20.
Located about 65 miles southwest of Grand Forks, Finley isn’t traditional pheasant country, but the wildlife club in 2012 began buying pheasants and releasing the birds on surrounding private land in cooperation with willing landowners.
Initially, the club hosted the Youth Pheasant Hunt every other year, but it’s become an annual event in recent years. There’s no charge to participate, but adults are asked to bring a young hunter with them.
According to Brian Tuite, a longtime member of the Finley Wildlife Club, registration is mandatory and begins at 7 a.m. in the Finley American Legion Hall, 600 Lincoln Ave. Wildlife club volunteers will be on hand to provide maps showing where birds have been released and answer any other questions hunters might have. The club will serve a free creamed pheasant and wild rice dinner beginning at noon.
North Dakota regulations and licensing requirements apply.
For more information, contact Mike Stromsodt at (701) 789-0583.