Wildlife, fisheries majors have many options after graduating

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been a part of SDSU since 1939 and continues to grow each year.

“One thing I really like about the major is all the different characters you get to meet along the way,” said Eric Boyda, a senior wildlife and fisheries major. “The professors are really easy to connect to personally if you have questions.”

There are currently 275 undergraduate students enrolled as wildlife and fisheries majors. The department also has approximately 60 graduate students, and 15 of them are Ph.D. students, said David Willis, head of the Wildlife and Fisheries Department.

“I actually came here to do my graduate work because I knew that SDSU had one of the best wildlife and fisheries programs in the country,” said Trevor Selch, a current graduate student at SDSU. “The faculty and courses are a really great asset to the university.”

Most incoming wildlife and fisheries freshmen at SDSU choose their major because they are interested in the topic, said Willis. As time goes on and they start to get their generals out of the way, they usually choose a specific area of interest in which to work.

“The opportunities that come with this major are absolutely endless,” said Willis. “Students graduate with so many options.”

Students who graduate with this major can work in wildlife or fisheries in state and national parks. Some students go on to work with endangered species or continue research studies. Others work with South Dakota’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks. PhD students often go on to teach at other universities.

“I really enjoy my major. The professors really want us to achieve our goals,” said Bethany Galster, a junior wildlife and fisheries major. “I plan to go into fisheries for possibly a non-profit organization or a park.”

“I really like this major because it can take you so many places,” said Andy Kvien, a senior wildlife and fisheries major. “It can take you to really big cities or totally remote areas; it’s fun.”

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries houses the South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the National Wetlands Inventory and the South Dakota GAP Analysis Project. The department Web site explains the research projects as they are below.

The South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is a partnership in research, training and extension that originated in 1932.

The National Wetlands Inventory is a project that SDSU has received research grants and contracts to identify, delineate and classify wetlands, riparian zones and uplands for the past 28 years.

SDSU is a contributor to the South Dakota GAP Analysis Project, which is part of a national project. GAP analysis is a method for identifying nationwide where native animals and plant communities occur in relation to existing protected lands. Species and communities not represented in these protected lands constitute “gaps” or species at risk for extinction. Once these gaps are identified, management plans can be enacted to perpetuate these at-risk communities into the future.

To learn more about SDSU’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department, visit the Department’s Web site at http://wfs.sdstate.edu/wfsci.htm.