Made up of nearly thirty University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, UNL Wildlife Club strives to have its members become more engaged in conservation both on and off campus.

The club – which meets every other Wednesday at 6 p.m. at East Campus’s Hardin Hall in room 162 – focuses on promoting interest in Nebraska’s environment and helping students gain knowledge about wildlife through activities, guest speakers and awards.

“I think the interaction that you get with people that genuinely care about wildlife and the conservation of wildlife is such an important thing and a big deal and in Nebraska, especially with all the natural resources that we have,” said Ben Breske, a senior fisheries and wildlife and environmental studies major and vice president of UNL Wildlife Club.

After three years of dormancy due to COVID-19, the club is ready to name its winner of the Howard L. Wiegers Nebraska Outstanding Wildlife Conservation Award at their banquet on April 15. The award is named in honor of Wiegers, because he founded the fisheries and wildlife program at UNL in 1990.

The statewide award is given to any individual in Nebraska who performs excellent wildlife conservation work, excluding those associated with the Nebraska Game and Parks, according to Breske.

Though mainly fisheries and wildlife students attend, every major is welcome to join. Most meetings involve practicing hands-on conservation techniques and learning from speakers who are in the field, Breske said.

“The club meetings can provide an opportunity for students to get involved in their community and meet people with similar interests,” said Megan McCall, club treasurer and senior animal science and fisheries and wildlife major, in an email. “The club works with students providing environmental education to encourage others to care for wildlife and think of how their habits may affect wildlife.

Members of the registered student organization have also spent time outside of club meetings to improve the environment for wildlife in the area, participating in this year’s trash cleanup at Deadman’s Run on East Campus. Alumni of the club have gone on to work as faculty at UNL or in conservation efforts across the state of Nebraska, according to Breske.

“A lot of the faculty in the School of Natural Resources are former members of Wildlife Club, so they have a long history with the club and care a lot about it. And it just makes a lot of things come together for a lot of people on this campus,” Breske said. “Across the state, even, there's a solid chance that if you meet somebody in the natural resources field who went to UNL, they probably were a part of the Wildlife Club.”

Because so many members of the club are involved with UNL’s School of Natural Resources, the club allows them to grow their interest in professional work within the conservation field.

“Through the club, I have had an amazing opportunity to meet and connect with other students and faculty,” McCall said. “I have gained skills and knowledge from working with other members of the club and have a stronger interest in working with wildlife after graduation.”