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Why the Penn State Deer-Forest Study Matters

Penn State Ecosystems

Penn State is investing in the future of wildlife management with its Deer-Forest Study. 

Penn State’s Deer-Forest Study is providing a lot more than just information about how deer interact with their environments. It’s preparing the next generation of ecosystem science professionals for careers in a variety of disciplines.

According to the study’s webpage, researchers from Penn State, the U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry have been monitoring deer populations and forest health in central and north-central Pennsylvania.

To help with this massive undertaking, the study has employed 60 college students and recent graduates. These young professionals gain valuable field experience, such as tackling deer, firing rocket nets, identifying plants, affixing radio-transmitter colors and searching for fawns.

The work is difficult, and does not schedule around weather. Early mornings and late nights are common, but the students and recent grads can’t get enough.

Field technicians often go on to perform graduate work or acquire permanent full-time jobs in related professions. And maybe most importantly, the study is preparing a lot of a young women to become leaders in a profession historically dominated by men.

According to the study’s blog, women gain the majority of degrees in the biological sciences, but make up less than half the workforce.

In fact, both graduate students on the study are females, and both crew leaders are females. And, to top it off, there is nearly an equal number of male and female field technicians.

Penn State is providing advances to wildlife biology in a variety of ways. They’re learning about deer populations and forest change, but they’re also instilling a passion and work ethic in the next generation of ecosystem science professionals, many of whom are women.

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Why the Penn State Deer-Forest Study Matters