It was downright blustery outside when the Cabela's Apprentices shared their research through a poster session Jan. 11 at the outdoor retailer's loyalty headquarters in Lincoln, but inside, the reception was warm.
Cabela's Director of Marketing Dylan Paulsen and other staff and guests stopped with each of the apprentices, all School of Natural Resources students, to hear about their experiential learning projects in the fish and wildlife field. The projects ranged from cataloging flora on property between Pioneer's Park and Spring Creek Audubon Center, just outside of Lincoln, to studying the chacma baboon in Botswana, Africa.
“We want to continue to do more to strengthen and help create opportunities for students,” Paulsen said. “We are eager to get more students interested in recruiting, reactivation and retention of hunters and anglers. These students hands-on work in land and wildlife conservation is a great step towards that.
“Both wildlife and habitat conservation are important to Cabela's,” he added, “and this helps foster what is nearest and dearest to our hearts.”
The apprenticeship program began about five years ago with a donation by Cabela's that was turned into an endowment. The dividends off that original investment now fund student research. The first eight apprentices were named two years ago, and the second 10 were named last spring. Research projects typically are conducted during the summer months, though some do go year-round.
“This is a pretty unique opportunity for students,” said Mark Pegg, the apprenticeship program leader and SNR professor. Modeled after the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s UCare program, the Cabela’s Experiential Learning apprenticeships are aimed at undergraduate students wishing to do research or gain hands-on experience in natural resource topics that address real issues centered around:
- Recruiting and maintaining participants in outdoor activities.
- Creating and managing fish and wildlife and their habitat.
- Supporting conservation of ecosystems.
Each spring, students can submit proposals for a project of their choice and earn funding for it (Look back here where the 2018 application will be posted this spring). Typical awards are between $3,000 to $5,000. Projects have ranged from outreach on outdoors activities to testing weather’s effects on coyote movements.
It's a resume builder for sure, whether the students seek employment after graduating or go on to graduate school.
The program is a partnership with Cabela's, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and SNR.
“They have been good partners; they want to see the program succeed as much as we do,” Pegg said. “These students will be our future land managers, recruiters and outdoors activity bosses, and that's where our interests and theirs merge.”
View photos from the event here.
Shawna Richter-Ryerson, Natural Resources