The need to prepare today’s students to take on new challenges in conservation was the driver behind a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the college in June. Both organizations recognize that providing students with an understanding of conservation principles, coordinating educational opportunities, and facilitating hands-on experiences will not only benefit the environment, but also enhance student career development.

“The MOU will assist us in recruiting a student body representative of the American population and allow us to assist the Fish and Wildlife Service in developing a diverse workforce capable of addressing the conservation challenges of the 21st century,” said Dean Paul Winistorfer. The two groups will collaborate on special projects; provide students with career advice and conservation-related work experience; and locate, develop, and engage with university groups and conservation organizations, including those that reach minority groups.

“This MOU is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to reach out and build relationships with the conservation biologists of the future,” said Steve Guertin, deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Together we can work to cut across demographic divides and find and cultivate the Rachel Carsons and Aldo Leopolds of tomorrow, opening them up to the possibilities that exist at the Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Relationship building with individual students is a key component of the MOU to inform them of the volunteer, internship, and work opportunities at the service and the help these avenues may provide for future employment. The MOU is also part of a broader effort at the service to engage with diverse audiences to ensure the future relevance of its mission in this changing landscape, as well as an extension of the commitment Virginia Tech has to contribute to fish and wildlife conservation at all levels through integrated programs in research, teaching, and engagement.

Read the full press release.