Tarleton wildlife science students win statewide Quiz Bowl competition

The Tarleton State University wildlife Quiz Bowl team won first place at the annual conference of The Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society held in Corpus Christi. Pictured (l-r) are Andrew Chapman, Joseph Wilson, Allen Williams, Trey McClinton, Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society executive board president Dr. Dave Hewitt, Bradley Kubecka, Casey O’Neal, Kristyn Stewart, Kari Waddle and Michael Duncan during the trophy presentation.

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STEPHENVILLE (March 3, 2015) — Members from the Tarleton State University student chapter of The Wildlife Society captured first place in the Quiz Bowl competition at the 51st annual meeting of The Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society in Corpus Christi.

The nine-member Quiz Bowl team, coached by Tarleton assistant professor of wildlife science Dr. Heather Mathewson, brought the championship trophy home to Tarleton for the fourth time in the last nine years the Society has hosted the event.

Team members include seniors Bradley Kubecka, Allen Williams, Michael Duncan, Joseph Wilson and Casey O’Neal; junior Kari Waddle; and freshmen Trey McClinton, Kristyn Stewart and Andrew Chapman. All members of the team are majoring in wildlife science with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences.

This year’s Quiz Bowl included three distinct rounds of competition with progressive levels of difficulty. The first set of matches served as qualifying rounds focusing on basic wildlife knowledge and field skills. Semi-final matches consisted of moderately difficulty questions intended to test the teams’ ability to think critically and synthesize wildlife-related knowledge and skills. The final round was a stiff competition testing the breadth and depth of the final two teams’ knowledge and skills.

Tarleton advanced to the final round of the Quiz Bowl after winning round one, 17-4, round two, 12-6, and the championship with a score of 2-1. Other universities represented in the Quiz Bowl were Texas A&M, Texas A&M – Kingsville, West Texas A&M, Texas State, Sul Ross and Stephen F. Austin.

“Plenary speakers at the meeting noted that wildlife students today are not as prepared as in the past, and universities are beginning to stray from practical wildlife education,” said Kubecka, team captain for Tarleton. “The Tarleton Student Wildlife Society’s Quiz Bowl team is an exception.”

Mathewson said Tarleton’s team practices several hours per week during the fall and spring semesters to prep for the Quiz Bowl. “The core curriculum of the wildlife science major includes several courses that help students prepare for the competition,” she said. “They also have to know about common field techniques employed by wildlife biologists, such as wildlife trapping and handling methods, identification of species and aging techniques.”

“The Quiz Bowl competition is a rigorous test of our students’ knowledge in wildlife ecology and management,” Mathewson said. “This involves more than memorizing facts about animals; it is a demonstration of a broad, conceptual understanding of the myriad fields of expertise that a future wildlife biologist must study during their training.”

Winning the Quiz Bowl required students to draw on knowledge from many disciplines, including cellular biology, genetics, statistics, soil science, ecology and taxonomy, among others, Mathewson said.

Tarleton students also won awards for their research findings at the annual meeting, with a third place in oral presentations and a second and third in posters.  Research winners were:

3rd Place, Cottam Award for Best Graduate Oral Presentation: Enright, T. A. W., T. W. Schwertner, and J. B. Breeden – White-tipped dove detection probability, occupancy, and distribution in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

2nd Place, Best Undergraduate Poster: Kubecka, B. W., B. Ruzicka, and D. Rollins –  Spring and summer diet of Rio Grande wild turkey in the northern Rolling Plains.

3rd Place, Best Undergraduate Poster: Vavra, C. J., S. R. Clawson, T. W. Schwertner, A. Monadjem, and P. D. Sudman – Germination and decay rates of figs seeds selected by Wahlburg’s epauletted fruit bats.

Tarleton has established itself as one of the top teaching universities in wildlife biology in Texas, and the team’s victory is further evidence, said Mathewson. “These competitions and meetings allow students to interact with professionals and to learn more about innovative developments in our field, ongoing research and future opportunities. By Tarleton’s students winning the Quiz Bowl, they not only made a name for themselves but they demonstrated the high quality of education that our students obtain from our undergraduate program in wildlife.”

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