Among the many activities Elizabeth Bruner remembers from attending a five-day Wildlife Leadership Academy camp near State College, she located a transmitter using radio telemetry – a way of tracking whitetail deer and other species.
“It was like I was a biologist conducting research!” she said. “I really loved that sort of hands-on learning, including time at a shooting range, collecting plants and assessing wildlife habitats. This program has fueled my passion for conservation and has given me the knowledge and resources to make a difference.”
Alt offers his skills in camps beyond the bear program.
“The curriculum is well-rounded with seminars ranging from turkey population dynamics to forest ecology,” said McEntee. “Some of the most memorable moments were when we got to watch a rocket net launch and when we practiced using radio telemetry with Gary Alt.”
The bass and brook trout programs are focused on aquatic issues and ecosystem needs.
“The students in the Brookies and Bass camps are digging in the streams, collecting and IDing macroinvertebrates with aquatic biologists, then figuring out what that means about the stream,” said Connolly. “They aren’t just fishing all week long, but learning about scientific process and how the different levels of the ecosystem support each other.”
The learning goes well beyond the five-week camp program.
“Students have to do outreach in their communities, and we offer incentives for them to keep up with their record books, such as the ability to attend professional meetings like with the PA Chapter of the Wildlife Society or the coldwater conference that happens every other year,” said Kittell Connolly. “We also offer college visits with Penn State Dubois and Susquehanna University’s Freshwater Research Institute’s fishery program. Students provide blog posts for our newsletters and we recently launched a website for alumni where we post jobs and other resources that they may find helpful as they grow in their college exploration and career efforts.”
The student-written weekly blogs are especially powerful for Connolly.
“When I see what they write, it just gives me hope. I kind of disagree with the idea that youth aren’t interested in our outdoor resources because I never seen more passion than what I see with our students,” she said. “If you want to get something nice and positive in your inbox, then sign up for our NextGen blog.
“Ultimately, our belief in them should be positive and not cynical. We hope they take that positive energy and give back to their community and make a difference long-term for our natural resources.”
The Wildlife Leadership Academy is currently accepting nominations for the class of 2022, teens between the ages of 14-17 nominated by coaches, teachers or instructors (not family), who can vouch for the student’s interest for our outdoor resources.
For more information about the program, including the five summer camp programs (held at Krislund Camp and Conference Center near Madisonburg), visit www.WildlifeLeadershipAcademy.org
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.