Volunteer Project Provides Hands-On Experience

Bearcat Hollow Project Fall 2021
Group photo of volunteers who assisted with a cooperative habitat improvement project at Bearcat Hollow Wildlife Management Area in fall 2021.

Students from the Arkansas Tech University Fisheries and Wildlife Society recently volunteered their services for a cooperative habitat improvement project at the Bearcat Hollow Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the Ozark National Forest.

Wayne Shewmake of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) said 2021 marks the 12th year that organizations such as AWF, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) have worked together to benefit wildlife in the Bearcat Hollow WMA.

“I can’t say thank you enough to everyone from ATU for their support and to all of the volunteers over the years for their help and support,” said Shewmake. “Several students have never camped before or spent time out in the wilderness, so this has been a good opportunity for them to get some experience.”

Arkansas Tech’s involvement with the program began in 2010 when four students from the ATU Fisheries and Wildlife Society participated in the improvement project. As the initiative has grown in the years since, it has helped open doors to career opportunities for Arkansas Tech graduates.

“I know a lot of them have gone to work for AGFC, USFS, Quail Unlimited and several other wildlife agencies throughout the country,” said Shewmake. “This project has allowed the students to get hands-on experience as to what it is like to work in the field and to see the benefits of the work being done. Even after they went to work in the real world, they have told me how much they enjoyed the experience and how much it prepared them for working to build a better habitat for wildlife and nature.”

According to the program’s web page, the ATU fisheries and wildlife science program is “designed to prepare qualified field and research biologists as well as provide a sound foundation for those students who intend to pursue graduate studies in wildlife biology, fisheries biology or field ecology.”

Learn more about the ATU fisheries and wildlife science program at www.atu.edu/degrees/bachelors/fisheries-wildlife-sciences.php.