Tarleton wildlife science students win statewide Quiz Bowl competition

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STEPHENVILLE (February 28, 2017) — Tarleton State University students beat out Texas State University to bring home first-place honors in this year’s Quiz Bowl at the 53rd annual meeting of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society in San Antonio, marking the fifth championship win in the past 10 years.

Tarleton’s plant identification team earned third-place honors at the annual meeting, and three students received individual awards.

A senior from Tomball, Texas, Trey McClinton was selected Outstanding Student of the Year by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society and received this year’s Carl D. Shoemaker Memorial Scholarship—$1,500 to help with educational expenses at Tarleton. Andrew Chapman earned Judges’ Choice honors in photography, and Nick Belsher took third place in the wildlife photography category.

In addition to McClinton, Chapman and Belsher, 2017 Quiz Bowl team members are Kristyn Stewart (captain), Kelton Mote, Daniel Wilcox, Hunter Gilliam and Lauren Halbert—all wildlife science majors in Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Members of the plant identification team are McClinton, Stewart, Mote, Rebekah Wagner, Josh Berry and Wyatt Bagwell, and coach is Jared Hall.

Quiz Bowl coach Dr. Heather Mathewson—assistant professor of wildlife science—said the Tarleton team practices several hours per week during fall and spring semesters to prep for the annual competition.

“Core curriculum for Tarleton’s wildlife science majors includes several courses that help students prepare for the Quiz Bowl,” she said. “Team members 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 explained, “involving more than memorizing facts about animals. Quiz Bowl competitors must demonstrate a broad, conceptual understanding of the myriad fields of expertise that a future wildlife biologist must study during training.”

Winning the Quiz Bowl—which consists of three demanding rounds—requires students to draw on knowledge from many disciplines, including cellular biology, genetics, statistics, soil science, ecology and taxonomy, among others.

“Tarleton has established itself as one of the top teaching universities in wildlife biology in Texas, and 2017 awards and honors are evidence,” Mathewson said. “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 winning the Quiz Bowl, Tarleton students made a name for themselves and demonstrated the high quality of education available through our undergraduate program in wildlife.”

Tarleton State University’s Wildlife Quiz Bowl team (top photo) took first place at this year’s competition, while senior student Trey McClinton (middle photo) was named Outstanding Student of the Year by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society and recipient of the Carl D. Shoemaker Memorial Scholarship. Tarleton’s Plant Identification team (bottom) earned third place in their respective competition.

As part of the annual meeting, Tarleton students also presented research findings.

Undergraduate students and their research topics are:
• Jordan Fisher: “Gossypol Toxicity and Reproduction of Northern Bobwhite”
• Trey McClinton: “Population Trends and Reproductive Success of Mottled Ducks on the Upper Texas Coast”
• Kelton Mote: “Factors Influencing Nest Survival of Mourning Doves in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas”
• Myca Reed: “Restoration Effects on Vegetation at Northern Bobwhite Nests.”

Graduate students and their research topics are:
• Danielle Belleny: “Evaluation of Land Restoration Practices on Northern Bobwhite Survival and Productivity in North-Central Texas”
• Jared Hall: “Factors Influencing Survival of White-Winged Doves in Texas”
• Lisa McAnally: “A Dietary Preference Study for the Texas State Bison Herd in Caprock Canyon State Park”
• Conor McInnerney: “Fine Scale Population Trends of White-Winged Dove, 2008-2016”
• Amy Okichich: “Acute Toxicity of Gossypol on Northern Bobwhites”
• Joseph Wilson: “Annual Survival of Mourning Doves from Banding Data.”

“Throughout my career, I have been associated with a number of university wildlife programs,” explained Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, head of Tarleton’s Department of Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences. “I honestly can say that I have never been prouder than to be associated with this program and to attend conferences—such as the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society—wearing Tarleton purple.

“Ask anyone in Texas, and they won’t hesitate to tell you that Tarleton is home to one of Texas’ premier university wildlife programs,” he added. “These students are the future of wildlife conservation. Hang around them for just a little while, and you’ll know, that our future is in good hands.”

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