Animal Welfare Civic Engagement Project Examines Wildlife Conservation

Animal Welfare Civic Engagement Project Examines Wildlife Conservation

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Clare Kelly
March 25, 2014

The Animal Welfare Civic Engagement project focuses on exposing its students to various animal issues and how government, non-profits, and individuals are working to combat or support them. As a part of this focus, the Animal Welfare Civic Engagement project leaders hosted three speakers during its meeting on March 6th at TWC headquarters. Over 35 TWC spring 2014 interns heard from representatives of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), and Ducks Unlimited.


David Gagner, senior director of government relations at NFWF and a 1992 TWC alumnus, opened the meeting with a presentation about his organization. NFWF works to leverage private money with public funding in order to sustain and restore natural spaces in the U.S. while protecting the wildlife that inhabit them. Gagner is responsible for federal appropriations and works directly with the U.S. government and private partners to fund projects. These projects include oil spill clean-up, restoration of beaches affected by Hurricane Sandy, clean water programs, and helping animals affected by fracking. He mentioned that NFWF promotes “good practices on the ground,” which can range from creating a land bridge for migrating reindeer herds to transporting turtle eggs from the oil-affected Gulf Coast. In addition, spring 2014 interns learned about the importance of monetary partnerships between public and private sources in order to accomplish these vital projects.


Bridget Collins, an agricultural policy coordinator at AFWA, discussed the organization's mission to conserve nature for the benefit of the American public and said “the people of the U.S. own American wildlife.” The agency represents all state, fish, and wildlife agencies from a policy standpoint and discussed the 2014 Farm Bill, which was recently passed in Congress. Collins aslo explained how policy created in Washington, D.C. affects hundreds of wildlife agencies around the country.


The final speaker was Whitney Tawney, a government affairs representative with Ducks Unlimited, who discussed the organization’s work conserving 13 million acres in the last 75 years. Ducks Unlimited allowed spring 2014 interns to gain a different perspective of wildlife conservation by explaining how the organization uses hunting as a means of conservation, not just a sport, as many people might instinctively think.


Overall, spring 2014 interns were engaged and focused on the presentation. For many, it was their first time learning about this side of wildlife conservation. And for everyone, it was a chance to broaden their knowledge of animal welfare issues, which is the ultimate goal for this civic engagement group.


The Washington Center produces not only future leaders in their professions but also well-informed citizens who are engaged with their communities and their world. The goal of the civic engagement projects is to allow students to become well informed about an issue they care about and then work to make a positive difference in public life at the local, national or global level. Students devote a minimum of 15 hours over the course of the semester to active learning (attending meetings, lectures and hearings) and action (advocacy or volunteering). By the end of the semester, students write a three-to-four page report reflecting on the experience and articulating how the project helped them become more informed citizens. Find out more about civic engagement efforts in TWC's current and previous terms.


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