Reflecting on Last Year’s Field School Highlights 

As we prepare to welcome this year’s class of Conservation Ambassadors, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the remarkable achievements and experiences from last year’s field school season. In 2023, the Wildlife Leadership Academy provided the opportunity for 120 high-achieving youth to immerse themselves in a comprehensive study of Pennsylvania’s diverse wildlife and fish species along with their natural habitats. This educational experience was divided into five specialized field schools, each focusing on a particular species: deer, bass, trout, turkey, and bear. In addition to the intensive wildlife studies, these field schools emphasized the development of leadership skills, ensuring that students not only gained knowledge but also grew as future conservation leaders. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the class of 2023.

Understanding Natural Resource Management

All field school curriculums opened the door for students to understand natural resource management. Highlights included learning research techniques like radio telemetry and electrofishing, understanding the role of hunting and fishing in wildlife management, and assessing forest and stream health. These activities provided students with hands-on experience in the techniques used by professionals in the field. Take a look at the highlight video below from Brookies, where students collected macroinvertebrates to access the health of a stream.

Field Trips

Each field school featured a field trip, offering students a chance to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world settings. At Bucktails, Gobblers, and Ursids, students traveled to a nearby range to learn about firearms safety while engaging in target shooting and archery. The Brookies field trip featured a hatchery tour, fly tying lessons, and time fly fishing on the creek. Check out the video below of the Bass field trip to Sayers Lake, where students learned water safety, practiced casting, and spent plenty of time fishing!

Connecting with the Natural World

Across all curriculums, students were encouraged to deeply connect with their surroundings. Nature journaling sessions allowed them to document their observations and reflections. Additionally, they were taught the basics of photography, enabling them to capture the natural world from their unique perspectives. 

Growing as Leaders

Throughout the week, students prepared to take on the role of Conservation Ambassadors in their home communities. This preparation included engaging in a series of leadership skill development activities such as mock town hall meetings, group presentations, and team-building exercises. These activities not only built their confidence, but also equipped them with the skills needed to become young leaders. Take a look at the Bucktails video below where students participated in a mock town hall meeting and worked together in a team building activity!

Record-Breaking Outreach

The Class of 2023 made a significant impact through their outreach efforts. These young conservationists reached record-breaking numbers, educating their communities about various wildlife and conservation topics. Their achievements in outreach highlights their dedication and hard work over the past year. 

Looking Forward

As we look forward to welcoming this year’s class, we are excited to continue building on the successes of the past. Incoming students will have the opportunity to learn, grow, and engage their communities just like the class of 2023. We can’t wait to see what this year’s Conservation Ambassadors will accomplish. Their journey starts this Tuesday, and we are eager to support them every step of the way.