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:
- Gain practical, hands-on experience in a conservation related field
- Demonstrate the ability to formulate hypotheses, collect data, perform quantitative analysis
- Gain real-world perspective on how complex cultural issues relate to natural resource conservation and management
- 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?
/////////HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?
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 or with another state or federal agency
- Animal intern at a reputable zoological institution
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):
- Texas A&M Wildlife and Fish Job Board
- Student Conservation Association
- American Fisheries Society
- The Wildlife Society
- Diversity Joint Venture
- Society for Conservation Biology
- Conservation Job Board
- Ornithology Exchange
- Ecological Society of America
- Environmental Career Opportunities
Am. Soc. of Mammalogists
- Environmental Education
- Yale School of the Environment Job Board
- Ed's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs List
2) Complete the appropriate course registration forms for your experiential learning requirement BEFORE you begin the experience:
After speaking with your faculty mentor and agreeing on an experience, prepare the appropriate DocuSign form on the CNRE Advising Center’s website. Please note that there are example forms for you to review before you complete and submit your form. Please do review the examples to avoid common mistakes and make this process go more smoothly!
Experiential learning may be registered as 1) Field Study/Internship, 2) Independent Study, or 3) Undergraduate Research, see https://cnre.vt.edu/academics/academic-advising.html for the appropriate forms. If you want to use Study Abroad to meet your experiential learning requirement, please speak with your Faculty Mentor and Advisor before you sign up as not all Study Abroad courses count for this credit. It is very important that you speak with your Faculty Mentor before filling out the appropriate form about the following questions that you will have to answer on these forms.
The form must be submitted and approved BEFORE you begin the experience. The form will ask you the following questions in addition to some basic academic information about you and details on the organization that you are working with on this experience if outside of Virginia Tech:
A. Project Title and whether the course will be Pass/Fail (most common) or A-F grade (uncommon)
B. (a) Start and end date of the project or position, (b) approx. hours to be worked per week, and (c) total hours to be worked. Each credit hour requested should entail a minimum of 45 hours of combined instruction, supervision, and student effort.
C. Description of the project or position; you must include learning objectives and activities associated with the project or position (on average 250-500 words).
D. Describe how the project or position relates to your major and career goals.
E. Describe how you will be evaluated for a grade at the conclusion of the experience. Work closely with your instructor of record to develop this section. Talk to your mentor about when you will do the work and when you may complete the necessary post-work reflection and evaluation (see below). The post-work reflection and evaluation must occur during the time period you are registered for credit and you must state this clearly.
F. For those students doing undergraduate research, you will also be asked about the scientific premise for conducting the proposed research.
G. For those students doing Study Abroad for experiential learning credit, please be sure to get it approved before you enroll; not all study abroad experiences are suitable for experiential learning.
3) Complete your experience by:
1) Completing the Student Self-Evaluation and Reflection. A major component of this form is a reflection on your experience.
2) Have your Supervisor/Instructor Complete the Employer/Intern Sponsor Evaluation.
3) If you have questions about this process, please see your Advisor, Faculty Mentor or the Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs (Dr. Sarah Karpanty, email@example.com; 540-231-4586).
*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.