Hannah Krause

Hannah Krause is a Junior at Conrad Weiser High School in Berks County and has a true a passion for conservation. Hannah attended PA Bucktails in 2014 and came back to serve as an Assistant Team Leader at PA Drummers in 2015.

More about Hannah in her words…

I’ve participated with the PA Game Commission assisting to duck, goose, song bird, and barn owl band; do bear check-ins, Avian Flu testing, and deer chronic wasting studies. I’ve also had opportunities to work and learn at Red Creek Wildlife Center and Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. I continue to actively engage in Monarch Butterfly activities such as tagging, lecturing and creating waystations. I’ve just certified my second (of three) Monarch waystations with Monarch Watch.  The Wildlife Society of Pennsylvania awarded my Monarch poster board 1st prize at last year’s convention. I’ve also submitted photos to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. I’ve been a guest speaker on WEEU: Jack’s Backyard morning show. Currently, I am training my German Shorthair Pointer, Bella, to become a great hunting dog.  Additionally I am an active participant in my school’s FFA program, competing in CDE’s at Penn State.

What Hannah has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

This past July, I attended the Pennsylvania Ruffed Grouse field school, as an Assistant Team Leader. This opportunity presented because of my extensive outreach last year after attending Bucktails. The experiences as both a student and a Team Leader were fantastic. At the Academy, we were taught skills that help us to become leaders in our community. By becoming ambassadors for wildlife conservation, a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations is ensured.  I feel so strongly about the program that I actively engage the PAY IT FORWARD program.  If I can give back to WLA and the mission it aspires to, I’ve achieved even greater success in my goal to becoming an Ambassador for Wildlife Conservation.

Jackie Rosenberger

Jackie is a sophomore at Shippensburg University of PA pursuing a degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology with a GIS minor.

She first attended the PA Bucktails field school as a student in 2009 and has been active with the program ever since attending the Pennsylvania Drummers field school, serving as an Assistant Team Leader, and being a part of the Academy Support Team the past two years. She has written numerous articles about her Academy experience for the PA Game News, the Ruffed Grouse Society’s national magazine, and the PA Outdoor Writers Newsletter as well as in her local newspapers. She is an avid outdoors-women and conservationist.  When she isn’t at school or work, she enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and watching sports.

What Jackie has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The Academy transformed me into a conservation leader by equipping me with the confidence and skills necessary to engage the public. When I attended my first field school as a student, I was shy and fearful of public speaking. But, by the end of the week, I became so passionate about what I learned that I gained an overwhelming motivation to spread the conservation message. Because I excelled in my outreach, I returned to field school as an Assistant Team Leader and Apprentice. I continue to attend field schools because I want to help provide new students with the same life-changing experience that I had. Additionally, the program introduced me to an array of wildlife professionals with whom I volunteer. These volunteer experiences helped to verify my career goal of becoming a wildlife biologist.

Molly Diefenbach

Molly is a senior at the University of Wyoming this year and will be applying to veterinary schools next fall.

An update in her words…

My main interests of study are wildlife and large-animal medicine.  This past summer, I worked at the USDA/APHIS National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, CO on an oral rabies vaccine trial in skunks, raccoons, and coyotes.  This job really helped to open my eyes to wildlife diseases and how that carries over to domestic animals – a subject that really interests me!  While spare time is hard to come by, I do enjoy skiing in the Colorado mountains, showing cattle, volunteering at the local veterinary clinic, hunting, hiking, and fly-fishing in the wild Wyoming wilderness.


What Molly has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

In just one week, I left my field school with more leadership skills, more passion, and more connections to professionals in wildlife and conservation than I could ever dream of.  As an assistant team leader the following year, I learned just as much if not more from the students, the mentors, and the experiences.  From animal necropsies, to plant identification, to radio telemetry, I have yet to find another opportunity that is as educational, stimulating, and rewarding as WLA.

Benjamin Hawes

Benjamin Hawes is a sophomore at Keystone College studying Environmental Resource Management, with a minor in Chemistry.

Since participating in the Drummers program, 2011, he has become an Eagle Scout and Local Church Servant with the United Methodist Church. He is active both on and off campus through clubs, symphonic band, Honors Program, church, and service learning.  Benjamin is planning on going for a month this coming summer to Tanzania to study Wildlife Management with the School for Field Studies.

What Benjamin has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

My experience with the Wildlife Leadership Academy opened my eyes to wildlife and natural resource conservation. It was a great week where I was pushed to succeed, and excelled. I learned more about grouse and habitat management, silviculture in particular. I am always proud to list the Wildlife Leadership Academy on applications or to talk about it in conversation.

Gabriel Ramos

Gabriel Ramos is from North Eastern Pennsylvania. He is in tenth grade at North Pocono High school and is currently Historian for the Friends of Rachel club, a member of Junior Academy of Science, and the Science Olympiad team.

More about Gabe in his words…

I am in the process of implementing a Diversity Committee, and I am Chairperson of Advocacy and Legislation for the PTSA; I participate in poetry out loud and theatre, the Gifted Education Program, and take several AP classes. At our local Intermediate and Elementary Schools, I mentor students in need and run a club about math and physics.

Outside of school, I am involved heavily with my church and community. I am the youth representative of my parish pastoral council; I also altar serve, lector, cantor, and am on the Youth Group core team. I take classical vocal training, which I use to sing for local nursing homes. I love to play saxophone, and piano. I am an Eagle Scout, a rank which I attained at the age of thirteen; my project was a the restoration of a one mile walking trail and the planting of a butterfly garden near my school for public use. I enjoy playing golf and hiking. I have participated in several fundraisers for cancer survivors and also I have also worked in collaboration with the Gift of Life organ donation organization.

What Gabriel has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The Wildlife Leadership Academy is a great experience. It was educational, yet fun, and I met many people that I have made lasting relationships with. It is an experience everyone should have. If you are interested in wildlife, biology, the outdoors, all of the above, or even none of the above, you should check this program out! You will not regret it! I’d like to thank all of the coordinators and instructors as well as all of the volunteers that made the program possible for students like me to enjoy. Thank you for giving me all of the tools that I need to spread the message of Conservation.

Gabe is participating in our youth Pay It Forward fundraiser.  His goal is to raise $1000 to pay it forward to next year’s students.  If you would like to give to his online fundraiser you can do so here: Creating a Wildlife Legacy.


Katie Schmidt

Katie Schmidt is a senior at Penn State studying Wildlife and Fisheries Science with a minor in Forest Science.

More about Katie in her words…

I am the president of the Penn State student chapter of The Wildlife Society and I am also working on undergraduate research to see if there is a wild, breeding population of ring-necked pheasants in Pennsylvania by looking at isotopes on the feathers. When I can I volunteer at Shaver’s Creek and with Clearwater Conservancy. I’m hoping to get out west and work in my field for a few years before returning to grad school eventually.

What Katie has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

I credit Wildlife Leadership Academy as being the reason I am at Penn State and in my major. WLA sparked a fire in me to learn more and more about wildlife and the environment and that passion has not died since my last day at camp. I met so many amazing professionals and fellow peers in my time as a student and assistant team leader and I gained a wealth of knowledge and confidence that has gotten me to where I am today.

Brett Ramer

Brett Ramer is currently a sophomore at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying Ecology, Conservation, and Environmental Biology.

More about Brett in his words…

I am also working on a minor in Geography. I am hoping to get an internship this upcoming summer in a national park, state park, or aiding a biologist in the field. When I’m not in the classroom, I’m hanging out with my friends, hunting, golfing, or rooting on all three Pittsburgh pro sport teams—Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins.

What Brett has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The Wildlife Leadership Academy instructors opened my mind about starting a minor in Geography. The WLA instructors explained to us in the field schools that having a minor in GIS or Geography could lead to more opportunities. For example, for my high school senior project, I job shadowed an Elk Biologist Aide. The Elk Biologist Aide, Eric Perlock, used GIS software on his computer to track radio collared elk. I loved this field experience and that is part of the reason why I want to minor in GIS or Geography.

Additionally, I feel I gained a wealth of leadership skills when I was an assistant team leader for Brookies in 2013. The amount of knowledge that I gained in both Bucktails and Brookies field schools has been invaluable and I have been able to use some of the knowledge and leadership skills in my college classrooms. Without the Wildlife Leadership Academy, I don’t feel I would of had some great opportunities such as bird banding in the Allegheny National Forest, tracking elk, or visiting the Penn State deer pens.

Makayla Whaling

Makayla is a junior at DuBois Area High School and attended the PA Bucktails field school this past summer.

More about Makayla in her words…

I am a Girl Scout and a member of the Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Unlimited organization. Currently, I am working on completing my Gold Award. My goal is to teach others about the importance of an animal’s habitat. I also participate on the science team at my high school. In my free time, I enjoy volunteering at my local state park.

What Makayla has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The Wildlife Leadership Academy has had an indescribable effect on my life. It has opened my eyes to so many new opportunities and adventures. I am usually a shy person; however, WLA has taught me the leadership skills that I need to succeed. The education that I received is invaluable. I hope that others will be able to take part in this life-changing program, too!

Makayla is participating in our youth Pay It Forward fundraiser.  Her goal is to raise $500 to pay it forward to next year’s students.  If you would like to give to her online fundraiser and read more of her story you can do so here: The Wonders of Wildlife.

Makayla also has an excellent eye for nature photography, and takes stunning photographs.  She recently submitted a portfolio of these photos for us to share on our Facebook page.  See the full collection:  Makayla’s Photo Portfolio 

Ray Derman

Ray Derman is a Freshman at Camden Catholic High School located in Cherry Hill New Jersey. Ray attended PA Drummers in 2015 as a student.

More about Ray in his words…

I like to run Cross Country and Track and  my hobbies including hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors.  Recently I have been working on three of my outreach project making flies out of grouse feathers, managing my grandfather’s 50 acre woodlot for grouse and deer, and appearing as a guest on Catskill Forest Association’s “From the Forest” Radio show on WIOX to talk about grouse management and the Wildlife Leadership Academy.  I also recently scheduled a visit with the Audubon Society to talk about managing the Pine Barrens.  There I plan on giving a walk through presentation on managing for different game species.  This is all so I can complete my four outreach projects for the Wildlife Leadership Academy.

A couple of Ray’s flies!

Ray Derman Fly 1Ray Derman Fly 2

What Ray has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The Academy is very important to me because it taught me the skills I needed to talk to people about the benefits of managing for my favorite bird species, the Ruffed Grouse.  It also taught me how to go about doing it myself.  Not only was it enjoyable it it also taught me things that I would need to know to take my role in conservation to the next level.

Freya Bairdsen

Freya Bairdsen is from Westmoreland County and attended both the PA Bucktails and PA Ursids field schools this summer. She is a 10th grade homeschooler.

More about Freya in her words…

I grew up spending my time around forests, streams and swamps and the issues of biodiversity and habitat preservation feel very real to me.  Natural history and science have always fascinated me.  Being homeschooled gives me some extra freedom to pursue my interests; after studying biology last year, we decided this year I could focus on conservation biology. My other interests include Taekwondo – I’m really close to getting my black belt. I also take voice lessons and am part of the theater company Stage Right.  I’ve always loved to sketch – landscapes, natural objects and people; last year I started a business drawing commissioned portraits.

Inspired by my WLA experience, this summer I started volunteering with the Friends of Murrysville Parks, a group that works tirelessly to control invasive plants.  Next summer, I hope to continue working with the WLA, and also hope to join the Student Conservation Association on one of their national work crews.

What Freya has to say about Wildlife Leadership Academy:

The two field schools I got to do with the WLA this past summer were important experiences for me.  I’d always been interested in conservation, but being only 14, I wasn’t sure how I could explore the field.  I was so excited to find out about the WLA; it sounded perfect for me.

Once I found out I’d be able to go, my excitement was mixed with some nerves; I’m used to a calm, flexible environment and wasn’t sure what to expect.  The camps were challenging, but in a great way.  I got to talk to lots of professionals in conservation and see what working in the different areas might be like.  I met cool students I hope to stay in touch with and, of course, learned a lot about bear and deer!  The experience was completely worth any butterflies I had.

Joining the WLA has given me focus and direction.  I feel it’s cleared a path that could take me all the way into my adulthood and career.  Conservation is the most meaningful work I can think of; now I feel I have some momentum toward getting the skills I need to make a real contribution.  I’m so grateful to the WLA, for putting these opportunities in front of me.

Freya was our first Monthly Corespondent for our NextGen Blog.  She does a wonderful job of telling stories about her adventures outdoors including what she has learned!  Besides being an great write, Freya is also an amazing artist.