Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content


UT Wildlife Team​ Wins Southeastern Championship at Wildlife Conclave

The University of Tennessee’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society won the Southeastern Championship at the 2015 Southeastern Wildlife Conclave hosted by Virginia Tech University at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. The twenty-three member student team, co-advised by Dr. David Buehler, Mr. Chris Graves, Dr. Emma Willcox, and Dr. Brian Alford from the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, competed against twenty-one other college and university fisheries and wildlife programs. UT placed in the Top 3 in thirteen out of twenty competition categories!

The Southeastern Conclave is an annual event that brings over 450 wildlife students, educators, and professionals together for three days of workshops, field trips, and academic and field-based competition. UT hosted the first Southeastern Wildlife Conclave in 1972. This year’s team performed admirably and represented the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources extremely well. The UTK Student Chapter competed against University of Georgia, University of Florida, Virginia Tech University, Auburn University, LSU, Mississippi State University, University of Arkansas, Clemson University, and West Virginia University, among others.  Competitions included a double-elimination Quiz Bowl tournament and an outdoor Team Field competition that tested a broad range of wildlife technical knowledge and skills. Individual events included dendrology, orienteering, field photography, obstacle course, archery, rifle, canoeing, fly-casting, wildlife art, and poetry.   

Overall Awards: 
Team Field Competition: 1st Place 
Quiz Bowl: 2nd Place (Andrew Isenhower, Nathan Wilhite, Hunter Edmundson, Daniel Lawson, and Ariel Elliott) 
Dendrology: 1st Place (Jordan Nanney)  
Riflery: 1st Place (Cody Moore)  
Canoeing: 2nd Place (Ethan Newman and Nathan Wilhite)  
Goose Calling: 1st Place (Daniel Lawson)  
Cervid Calling: 1st Place (Jordan Nanney)  
Nongame Wildlife Calling: 3rd Place (Hunter Edmundson) 
Poetry: 1st Place (Chet Guthrie) 
Free-Form Art: 2nd Place (Ariel Elliott) 
Non-Manipulated Photography: 3rd Place (Andrew Isenhower) 
Trail Camera Photography: 2nd Place (Ariel Elliott) 
Events and Participants Team Field Competition: Cody Young, Luke Hoehn, Jordan Nanney, Joseph Whipple, Kelley Seneker, Laura Hendrixson, Ethan Newman, Ariel Elliott, Dakota Byrd, James Halko, Daniel Lawson, Cody Moore, Caitlin Livingston, Joshua Alston, Ravin Thomasson, Nathan Wilhite, Hunter Edmundson, David Lohman, Sam Bingham, Andrew Isenhower, Caylor Romines, Chet Guthrie, Tanner Germany
Quiz Bowl: Andrew Isenhower, Nathan Wilhite, Hunter Edmundson, Daniel Lawson, and Ariel Elliott 
Dendrology: Jordan Nanney 
Riflery: Cody Moore, Cody Young 
Canoeing: Ethan Newman & Nathan Wilhite 
Goose Calling: Daniel Lawson 
Duck Calling: Daniel Lawson 
Turkey Calling: Daniel Lawson 
Cervid Calling: Jordan Nanney 
Nongame Wildlife Calling: Hunter Edmundson 
Poetry: Chet Guthrie 
Free-Form Art: Ariel Elliott, Chet Guthrie Non-Manipulated 
Photography: Andrew Isenhower and Laura Hendrixson 
Trail Camera Photography: Ariel Elliott and Sam Bingham 
Obstacle Course: Hunter Edmondson, Dakota Bird, Laura Hendrixson, Luke Hoehn 
Archery: Josh Alston, Sam Bingham 
Orienteering: Caylor Romines, Kelly Seneker 
Fly Casting: Daniel Lawson 
Field Photography: Andrew Isenhower 
Digitally-enhanced Photography: Andrew Isenhower 
Painting: Laura Hendrixson 
Drawing: Laura Hendrixson, Ravin Thomasson

​Things Seem a Bit Batty Around Here

This past October, Reilly Jackson, a junior in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, attended the forty-third Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research in Albany, New York. This meeting brought together over four-hundred professional bat researchers from throughout North America, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.  At this meeting, Reilly presented the results of research she conducted with Dr. Emma Willcox during her summer internship in a poster titled “Roost Tree Use by Female Indiana Bats in Tennessee During the Migratory and Pre-Maternity Periods.” This research, which examined roost tree use by a federally endangered bat species, was conducted in collaboration with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Copperhead Consulting.  At the meeting, Reilly was thrilled to win the Organization for Bat Conservation Award for her presentation, which came with a $500 scholarship.  What made this award even more special was that Reilly was competing against over thirty other presenters, the majority of whom were graduate students. She is now working on converting her presentation into a manuscript, which will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for review and potential publication.

Since transferring to the University of Tennessee in 2013, Reilly has gained extensive research experience with bats. She initially started working with a PhD student through the McCracken Lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in winter 2013. These initial experiences were spent capturing and handling bats at cave entrances as part of a project investigating the effects of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a devastating fungal disease that has killed millions of bats across eastern North America, initially sparked Reilly’s interest in and love of bats. Last summer, she went on to complete her internship working on Indiana bats with Dr. Willcox, where she spent long days and nights out catching and radio-tracking this imperiled species. She is continuing to work with Dr. Willcox on a collaborative project with the McCracken Lab this winter as a field crew leader, again capturing bats at cave entrances. In addition, she has been swabbing bats for the WNS fungus inside caves. Because of the skills she has developed working with bats, she has also been assisting TWRA with their winter caves surveys. Many of the caves Reilly is surveying are closed to the public as a result of WNS. It is of great credit to Reilly that she has built such a strong relationship with TWRA and that they allow her to enter these caves with them. Most of the work Reilly has participated in related to bats is and continues to be voluntary. That she continues to work without being paid is a demonstration of her passion for bats and dedication to a career in wildlife. She is a great asset to the Willcox and McCracken Labs!


 She Started From the Bottom

Ariel Elliot participated in the free-form art competition at Virginia Tech's Southeastern Wildlife Conclave held March 12-15. For this competition, students could make an original sculpture, carving, textile, mixed-media, etc., but it could only be of a species native to North America. 

Elliot participated in this event at Clemson University in 2014 using a clay model of a bald eagle, at that time placing 18 out of 21. Though discouraged, she still planned on making something for the wildlife conclave at Virginia Tech.

Three days before the deadline to submit projects to the society, Elliot went out and gathered her materials: Eastern white pine needles from the Ag campus, a log from outside Andy Holt, along with styrofoam balls, toothpicks, and paint from Wal-Mart. “Honestly, I didn't know how the porcupine would end up looking like since I just looked at a photo of a porcupine on Google and began construction. When I finished, I thought it looked decent enough. I didn't think it would even place compared to the other artworks I saw in the room during conclave, so I literally jumped into a teammate's arms when my porcupine won second place” Ariel says.