The Major Elements
Biodiversity is the theme of our program, meaning that we focus on the diversity of entire ecosystems rather than on just one species. Students learn about all wildlife--insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds, as well as plants and soils. Beginning with basics like biology, chemistry and ecology, students move through a curriculum designed to give them a strong background in science with a special focus on conservation. Lectures, laboratories and field work expose Wildlife Conservation majors to a variety of educational experiences. Courses like Wildlife Habitat Management and Wildlife Research Techniques take students out to local wild areas to test their knowledge and skills. Ornithology students can be seen banding together in search of an evasive songbird, while students in Human Dimensions in Wildlife Conservation teach school kids about the impact we have on environmental quality.
Because conservation has consequences beyond science, students are exposed to coursework in philosophy, ethics, economics and public policy. Additionally, we ensure diversity in the undergraduate experience by requiring courses in English, math, computers, communication, the arts, humanities, and the social sciences. An Honors Degree is available to students wishing to expand the rigor of their curriculum.
To see the specific requirments for completling the Wildlife Conservation major view the current Graduation Checksheet.
(Note: Meeting the requirements for the Wildlife Conservation major will provide a student with the minimum educational requirements required for certification as an Associate Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society, a professional society.)
A Place To Learn
Most Wildlife Conservation classes and laboratory sections meet in the recently-renovated Townsend Hall, which is the cornerstone of our 350-acre teaching and research complex. Townsend Hall houses faculty offices; teaching and research laboratories; several classrooms; a student Commons; a library branch; and one of the best computing sites on campus. We also maintain an impressive Insect Reference Collection, containing more than 150,000 specimens, as well as extensive collections of birds and mammals, all of which are available for teaching, research, and student projects.
Our outdoor research center, located on site, means easy access for field trips to our farm, botanical gardens, field plots, hedgerows, small wetlands, and 35-acre woodlot. An active apiary provides a unique resource for students interested in learning about bees and their behavior. The farm harbors numerous species, including migratory birds, red foxes, box turtles, white-tailed deer, and great-horned owls. Nearby, several state parks, a wildlife refuge, and many forests offer additional field opportunities for observation and experimentation.
Enriching the Experience
From freshman orientation to graduation, Wildlife Conservation majors enjoy close interaction with the department’s faculty, who are the common thread in many experiences that make the undergraduate years meaningful.
In addition to getting to know faculty as instructors, students work with faculty advisors who assist with course selection, academic issues, and career planning. This relationship is an important one, as students often rely on faculty for recommendation letters and referrals for jobs and graduate school admissions.
Wildlife Conservation majors also may work with faculty as part of the Science Scholars program, where they conduct research, present posters on their findings, and may earn publication in scientific journals. Some students take their research even farther and write and defend a thesis, which earns them a Degree with Distinction. Throughout this process, a faculty mentor guides and advises the student researcher.
Wildlife Conservation majors also have the oppourtunity to earn credits for summer internships. A "Field Agreement" form must be signed and agreed upon with their major advisor.
For students who want to learn beyond the borders of Delaware, faculty-led programs in Antarctica, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and Tanzania give students the opportunity to study biodiversity in other ecosystems under the supervision and instruction of UD faculty.
Life After College
Career paths for Wildlife Conservation majors lie in research, management, regulation, enforcement, communication, consulting, and education. These opportunities occur in government agencies, conservation organizations, nature centers, museums, consulting firms, schools and universities. Graduate degrees greatly increase the chance for advancement, and qualified students from our program have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in ecology, wildlife biology, conservation, entomology, and environmental law.
Many career-preparation programs are held throughout the year, and cover topics such as resume writing, interviewing, networking, and graduate school. Career Fairs are held each year, allowing students to mingle with prospective employers. We encourage all students to participate in these events; to seek related experience through internships; to develop their communication skills; and to learn to network with prospective employers. This, in addition to doing well academically, greatly enhances post-graduate opportunities.