Graduate Student Wins The Wildlife Society’s 2015 Student Conservationist Award

A Bemidji State University graduate student was presented with The Wildlife Society’s 2015 Student Conservationist Award during the Minnesota chapter’s annual meeting, held in Mankato, Minn., in February.

Lynda LaFond, an Akeley, Minn., native pursing a master’s degree in biology, won the award given to a wildlife student at a Minnesota college who shows high scholastic achievement and promise as a future wildlife professional.

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, LaFond is pursuing her graduate degree after receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology with a chemistry minor from Bemidji State in 2014. Her research studies the effects of three land-management regimes on small mammal abundance at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

She gained an interest in land and wildlife management from her family of avid hunters, her grandfather in particular, and says her interest in conservation management came from her relationships with faculty at BSU – especially Dr. Elizabeth Rave, professor of biology, whom LaFond considers a mentor.

“The majority of credit for my interest in conservation management goes to Dr. Rave, who recognized my interest in working with military lands and helped me find a project on a military base by working on a restored ecosystem ,” LaFond said.

The Wildlife Society is an international organization of wildlife professionals who study, manage, and conserve wildlife populations and habitats. In addition to the parent society, each state has its own chapter.

“Lynda deserved the award for her outstanding performance as a student, for her exemplary work ethic, and for her tireless commitment to The Wildlife Society,” Rave said.

LaFond was a founding member of BSU’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society and has served as both its president and vice president. During her tenure as president, she was instrumental in organizing, along with co-hosts from the University of Minnesota, Crookston, the The Wildlife Society Midwest Student Conclave, held in March 2014 in Sandstone, Minn. The club currently has nearly three dozen members.

LaFond credits BSU’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society for providing her a plethora of guidance in shaping her to be the biologist she is today, and says the club has given her invaluable experience that will be useful to her in the future.

“My goals as a wildlife biologist is to attain a Ph.D., manage military lands for a while and then eventually teach in the biology field,” she said. “The student chapter provides hands-on experience with the technical skills future wildlife professionals need to have to be competitive in the job market, which has given me a huge advantage.”

Members of Bemidji State University’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society:

Bemidji |56601| Tyler Guest, junior, wildlife biology
Bemidji |56601| Baylee Johnson, sophomore, aquatic biology
Bemidji |56601| Brian Mason, junior, wildlife biology
Bemidji |56619| Robie Rock, junior, wildlife biology

Andover |55304| Aaron Ogle, sophomore, geography
Asheville |28805| Zane DenOuden, senior, wildlife biology
Becker |55308| Benjamin Miller, sophomore, aquatic biology
Barnum |55707| Kaysie Gallup, sophomore, biology
Circle Pines |55014| Eric Ziegler, junior, wildlife biology
Clear Lake |54005| Courtney Clark, junior, wildlife biology
Cohasset |55721| Alexis Jerry, junior, wildlife biology
Cold Spring |56320| Emily Rapp, sophomore, environmental studies
Coon Rapids |55433| Erin Mapes, senior, wildlife biology
Coon Rapids |55448| Chad Ziegler, junior, wildlife biology
Corcoran |55340| Katy Dahl, senior, biology
Detroit Lakes |56501| Brandon Dahring, sophomore, wildlife biology
Eagan |55123| Nikki Galatowitsch, senior, chemistry
Felton |56536| Destiny Wold, senior, criminal justice
Hereford |85615| Mikayla Osterman, senior, biology
Lees Summit |64063| McKenzie Ingram, junior, wildlife biology
Little Falls |56345| Adam Maleski, senior, wildlife biology
Maple Lake |55358| Mitchell Gindele, junior, biology
Ogilvie |56358| Hunter Welinski, senior, wildlife biology
Ramsey |55303| Cassie Block, junior, wildlife biology
Remer |56672| Abigail Burch, senior, criminal justice
Rochester |55902| Annika Bollesen, sophomore, wildlife biology
Scandia |55073| Ryan Weigel, freshman, wildlife biology
St. Cloud |56303| Alex Elness, sophomore, wildlife biology
Stewart |55385| Breanna Wagner, senior, wildlife biology
Warroad |56763| Stephen Mattson, senior, wildlife biology
Willmar |56201| Ellie Dittes, senior, wildlife biology