A Conservation Ambassadors Journey

This week’s blog was written by Elizabeth B., a Bucktails and Drummers alumni. She shares a reflection of her experiences as a conservation ambassador.

Do you love being outside in nature and learning about the intricacy and beauty of the flowers, trees, plants, and animals that inhabit the world around us? If so, you are just like me! I have a passion for conservation and the environment and becoming a conservation ambassador has opened up many opportunities for me to follow my passion and learn even more about nature. My name is Elizabeth Bruner, I am 16 years old and I have become a conservation ambassador by attending the Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA). In 2018 I was accepted to WLA as a student to the Bucktails (white-tailed deer) and Drummers (ruffed grouse) field schools. During my time there, my eyes were dramatically opened to the world of conservation. I learned so much and expanded my knowledge on white-tailed deer and ruffed grouse, their ecology, their habitat, what they eat, how to manage these species, how hunting affects their populations, and the impacts we as humans have on the environment. For me, helping to conserve and preserve the environment is a very important aspect of how each one of us lives out our daily lives. Conservation relates to everyone and if we all work together, we can make a difference.

Throughout the week of field school, I am very passionate about the outdoors and the Wildlife Leadership Academy has helped me to hone in on my future career, becoming a wildlife biologist. After attending WLA, each student is required to do outreach. Through my efforts, I gave over 20 presentations to local outdoor and conservation groups, worked with and mentored younger members in my 4-H clubs, participated in roadside cleanups, and expanded my knowledge on wildlife habitats and writing management plans while studying to represent PA 4-H at the National Wildlife Habitat Education Program. Because I had completed so many outreach activities, I was fortunate enough to win the Ralph Abele Excellence in Outreach Scholarship and attended Bucktails field school a second time as an assistant team leader (ATL) in 2019. While being an ATL I was able to expand my leadership skills and help the new students entering the WLA program. Since the teens had never been to the field school, me and my other ATL peers were able to mentor them along in their journey.

Being able to show leadership is important in all facets of life, not just at WLA. Not only does WLA provide a forum to talk about conservation with our peers but it also prepares us for becoming leaders in our future careers out in the workforce. Everyone who walks away from the week at field school has a new appreciation for the world around us and we strive to achieve the goal of preserving our natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment for the benefit of all the people, all important aspects to being a productive member in our communities.

The Wildlife Leadership Academy has taught me many things like leadership skills, expanded my knowledge of conservation and the ecosystem in which wildlife live, and has given me an abundance of opportunities where I can further my passion and get more involved in the outdoors. I’ve had the privilege of networking with field professionals who one day I hope to call my professional peers. I am very grateful for my WLA experience and I hope to continue my journey through the program.