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The Wildlife Society student chapter at Texas A&M-Kingsville wins multiple awards during annual meeting

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Plant ID Team

Texas A&M University-Kingsville student chapter of The Wildlife Society's Plant ID team poses for a photo at its Annual Texas Chapter Conference on February 23 in Houston. Pictured, from left are John Velasquez, Andrew Mendiola, Josh Allison, Clayton Golden, Awen Duniban, and Carolina Munoz.

KINGSVILLE (March 1, 2024) — The Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville attended its annual Texas Chapter Conference on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Houston, where it brought home 12 awards and top honors.

“Our faculty are dedicated to provide high-quality research opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students in the department,” said Dr. Bart Ballard chair of the Department of Range and Wildlife Services at Texas A&M-Kingsville, “The realization of their hard work is shown by the awards our students win at both state and national conferences.”

Texas A&M-Kingsville PhD student Georgina Eccles and TWS president and undergraduate Jessica Johnston highlighted the award recipients by taking home two major honors.

Eccles placed second for the Clarence Cottam Award, which is considered the most prestigious student award given by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society to recognize and promote student research excellence in wildlife biology, conservation, and management. The winners are recognized for their outstanding research contributions, awarded a scholarship.

Johnston was named Wildlife Student of the Year and was one of four first-place winners for the TWS, taking home top honors with her Undergraduate Scientific Poster Presentation.

Faculty and students from Texas A&M-Kingsville's Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute were largely represented in both the poster presentations as well as the oral presentations. They were co-authors on 33% of poster presentations and 30% of oral presentations at the meeting.

“This (representation) is meaningful because there are 11, and soon to be 13, student chapters of The Wildlife Society in Texas,” Texas A&M-Kingsville professor and Leroy G. Denman, Jr. Endowed Executive Director of Wildlife Research, Wildlife Biology Dr. David Hewitt said. “To have faculty and students from one program representing a third of all presentations is an illustration of our program’s influence.”

In photography, TWS had three first-place winners in three categories.

Dr. Levi Heffelfinger, Director of the North Texas Research Program and an Assistant Professor at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M-Kingsville, took top honors in the Work-Related Photos category.

Dr. Alynn Martin, Assistant Professor and Wildlife Disease and Epidemiologist, placed first in the Non-Texas Wildlife, Flora, and Landscape category and graduate student Breanna Green took top honors in the Wildlife Conservation category.

Martin also co-hosts a podcast with Dr. Sandra Rideout-Hanzak, professor of Restoration and Fire Ecology entitled A Talk on the Wild Side, which won the 2024 Outstanding Publication award for Electronic Media.

The Plant ID Competition team of Josh Allison, Carolina Rocha, Clayton Golden, John Velasquez, Andrew Mendiola, Awen Duniban and Carolina Munoz placed third out of more than 10 universities.

The TWS faculty sponsor is Dr. Ashley Unger Tanner.

See the full awards list below:

Wildlife Student of the Year — Jessica Johnston

Clarence Cottam Award, Second Place — Georgina Eccles

2024 Outstanding Publication award for Electronic MediaA Talk on the Wild Side, Dr. Alynn Martin & Dr. Sandra Rideout-Hanzak

Undergraduate Scientific Poster Presentation, First Place — Jessica Johnston

Undergraduate Scientific Poster Presentation, Third Place — Hunter Vasquez

Plant ID Competition, Third Place — The team of Josh Allison, Carolina Rocha, Clayton Golden, John Velasquez, Andrew Mendiola, Awen Duniban and Carolina Munoz

Wildlife Conservation Photography, First Place — Breanna Green

Non-Texas Wildlife, Flora and Landscape Photography, First Place — Dr. Alynn Martin

Work-Related Photography, First Place — Dr. Levi Heffelfinger

Texas Wildlife Photography, Second Place— Dr. Levi Heffelfinger

Remote Camera Photography, Second Place — Dr. Levi Heffelfinger

Humor Photography, Third Place — Dr. Levi Heffelfinger


Category: Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci

Photo of Mark Molina

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