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Experiential Learning


Experiential learning is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other students and become highly competitive for jobs and paid positions in graduate school.


You will do things like: 

  1. Gain practical, hands-on experience in a conservation related field 
  2. Demonstrate the ability to formulate hypotheses, collect data, perform quantitative analysis
  3. Gain real-world perspective on how complex cultural issues relate to natural resource conservation and management 
  4. Effectively report results in written form.

PLANNING YOUR EXPERIENCE

WHEN SHOULD YOU START PLANNING?

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, BUT BY YOUR SECOND SEMESTER AS A FISH OR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION MAJOR

(Your experience must be proposed and APPROVED PRIOR TO beginning the experience.)
 

 

WHO SHOULD YOU TALK TO? 

PLEASE MEET WITH YOUR FACULTY MENTOR TO DISCUSS YOUR PLAN

(If you are not sure who your faculty mentor is, you can log into Navigate where you will see a Fish and Wildlife Conservation faculty name listed.)

WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE? 


SUMMER JOBS
INTERSHIPS
STUDY ABROAD
INDEPENDENT STUDY 
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

/////////HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?

(Please complete steps 2 through 4 at the same time)

1)  Select your Experience:

The first step is to decide what you will do for your Experiential Learning. You might conduct undergraduate research, in which case you will need to contact a faculty member to set the research up.  A study abroad related to your major can also be used for Experiential Learning, but it should be preapproved, as not all study abroad experiences are acceptable. The majority of our students gain experience through a job or internship related to the field.  A representative sample of recent experiences approved for Experiential Learning include:

  • Habitat management internship on a private hunting preserve
  • Forest wildlife intern with a commercial timber operation
  • Stream survey intern for Trout Unlimited
  • Undergraduate Research on hellbenders
  • Independent study on Mountain Chorus Frogs
  • Intern working with aquatic invasive species in a State Park
  • Lands management intern for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
  • Environmental education through an outdoor outfitter
  • Field assistant in Belize
  • Biological Technician on a National Wildlife Refuge

Where do you find an internship or job? There are many resources available that advertise positions, and you can check out any of the following to identify an opportunity (many of these sites also provide guidance on getting a job):

2) Write your Experiential Learning Proposal:

After speaking with your faculty mentor and agreeing on an experience, prepare a short proposal (250 – 500 words) explaining your experiential learning opportunity. This proposal should be submitted BEFORE you begin the experience.  The proposal should include:

  • What you intend to do and with whom
  • When it will be done and approximate hours/week
  • What is the scope of the experience and what are the objectives?
  • How does the experience relate to your major and career goals?
  • What are the expected outcomes of the experience?
  • How will you be evaluated at the end of the experience?

Complete the Experiential Learning Partnership Agreement form, sign the form, and obtain signatures from:

1) Supervisor/instructor* (i.e., The person overseeing your experiential learning on a daily basis).   
2) Your assigned faculty mentor or the Associate Department Head, Dr. Dean Stauffer (if you are not sure who your mentor is).    

*Your supervisor/instructor and mentor are the same if you are doing research with your faculty mentor.

Email your signed Experiential Learning Partnership Agreement form and short proposal of your experiential learning to the Associate Department Head, Dean Stauffer, at dstauffe@vt.edu.

4) Register for the Appropriate Class:    

Depending on your experience, you should complete the appropriate form to enroll in one of the following courses:

FiW 2974 or 4974 [Independent Study] INDEPENDENT STUDY REQUEST

FiW 3954 [Study Abroad] AUTHORIZATION TO STUDY ABROAD (students participating in VT faculty led programs do not need to complete this form)

 FiW 3964 [Internship] FIELD STUDY / INTERNSHIP REQUEST (only select FIW 3964) -Students requesting internship credit should mark the P/F grading method.

FiW 4994 [Undergraduate Research] UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH REQUEST

For spring 2021 experiential learning additions, you may email lvarboncoeur@vt.edu to request the appropriate form through DocuSign. Please include which form you need as well as your VT faculty instructor’s name in the email.

5)Complete your experience by*:    

1) Completing the Student Evaluation of Experiential Learning Project Form.

2) Have your Supervisor/Instructor Complete the Supervisor/Instructor Evaluation of Student Performance Form. The completed form can be emailed to Dean F. Stauffer (dstauffe@vt.edu) if your supervisor/instructor is located off campus.  

3) Write a two- to three-page report on your Experiential Learning Project. The two- to three-page project final report should include reflection on the value of the experience to your training as a fish or wildlife conservation major. See your faculty mentor for more details. 

4) Turn in your signed evaluation form and final report to the Associate Department Head, Dean F. Stauffer (dstauffe@vt.edu).

*Note that you will receive a grade of Incomplete in the course until all final forms & your report are completed and turned in. 

Retroactive requests for experiential learning after the experience will typically not be approved. In exceptional circumstances, approval may be given within the semester following the experience being requested for credit; requests more than one semester after the experience will not be considered.