HERKIMER – Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Conservation program student Katie Marhaver selected moose for her animal-conservation project because she found information that moose can hold their breath underwater for a long time.
“Moose can swim under 20 feet of water,” she said, before describing how she imagines swimming in the Adirondacks and having a moose pop out of the water next to her. “That’s terrifying. That’s scary.”
Juniors in Herkimer BOCES Conservation program instructor William Carpenter’s class recently completed their end-of-the-school-year capstone projects on animal conservation. Students were required to select an animal species in New York state that has conservation efforts surrounding it.
Students started preparing the project in January and had a 10-15 page research paper due in May. Then they made display boards based on their papers and presented about their projects to other Herkimer BOCES students on Tuesday, June 1, in the lobby at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.
Their research papers and projects were about the challenges their animal species is facing and what conservation efforts they would propose for the species in the coming years. This is Carpenter’s fifth year as the Conservation instructor and the fifth year of this project.
Many students selected animals that can be found right in Herkimer County, Carpenter said.
“Which was awesome,” he said.
Sarah Crowe, Herkimer BOCES Technical Education English teacher, helped students with aspects of the projects including the research papers, citation and getting their displays ready.
“It’s great because in a typical setting, I would be teaching a research paper that wouldn’t necessarily be connected to their interests,” Crowe said, “but with this, it’s linked to their career interests.”
Crowe also said she enjoyed listening to the students present about their animals.
“I learned a lot myself just hearing about the projects,” she said.
The project is not only research-based and theoretical, but it’s also an opportunity for students to do related hands-on work, Carpenter said.
For example, Herkimer BOCES Conservation student Donnie Gatto, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, did his project on deer, so students did a pellet count on Herkimer BOCES property and used that to extrapolate information about the deer population statewide, Carpenter said. Students were able to learn tracking and trapping skills connected to the projects as well, he said.
Other skills students learned during the project included mathematics and communication, Carpenter said.
Students focus on communication in class too, but the project presentations allow students to talk to people they’re not used to interacting with, Carpenter said.
“This is a great opportunity for them to do some public speaking,” he said.
Carpenter has talked to many people in conservation-related industries, and officials mention a common skill required for every kind of job from working for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to working at a boat launch, he said.
“They want people who can communicate,” Carpenter said.
Marhaver, of Central Valley Central School District, said doing public speaking for the project was helpful. She enjoyed doing a project on something that she enjoys learning about.
“It was fun,” she said. “Very interesting.”
Marhaver said there are 400 moose in the state, and her conservation goals would be to see that go up to 600 and eventually up to 10,000 if possible because that would get moose off the protected list and would allow moose to be hunted.
“Hopefully it happens in the future,” she said.
Herkimer BOCES Conservation student Alex Scholl, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, chose bobcats for his project. He said bobcats aren’t as rare as people think and is more similar to domestic cats than many people realize.
New York state has three hunting zones for bobcats including one with a longer hunting season, one with a shorter hunting season and one with no hunting season, Scholl said. His conservation ideas including doing a bobcat census once every five years in the zones with hunting seasons and a statewide bobcat census every 10 years. He also would want to create a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Central New York that would include a focus on bobcats.
The class project included various aspects including research, writing, creating a display and presenting, Scholl said.
“It’s a different experience, but it’s accomplishable,” he said.
Public speaking being part of the project is helpful for the future, Scholl said.
“It’s definitely a skill that will be needed at some point no matter what career field you go into,” he said.
Herkimer BOCES Conservation student Chase Brewer, of Central Valley Central School District, did his project on black bears. His family has a camp in Forestport, and he sees black bears there a lot and while turkey hunting, so he has had an interest in black bears for a long time.
“It’s kind of always been my favorite,” he said.
During his research, Brewer learned that there aren’t as many black bears in the state as he thought, and he enjoyed the project.
“It was honestly kind of fun because you get to learn something you didn’t know about,” he said. “It shows what you can find and what you thought you knew about something and what you didn’t really know about it.”
Brewer’s conservation plans for black bears would include shortening the hunting season, he said.
“Kind of just boost the population,” he said.
Doing public speaking by presenting the projects to other students and answering their questions helps both for the future and for the project itself, Brewer said.
“You get more comfortable talking about it and know more about it,” he said.
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Conservation program juniors pose together after presenting their animal conservation projects to other students on Tuesday, June 1, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. From left: Jordan Mendez, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District; Izaick Kerr, of Little Falls City School District; Katie Marhaver, of Central Valley Central School District; Chase Brewer, of Central Valley Central School District; Donnie Gatto, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District; Alex Scholl, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District; Jake Parrotta, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District; Justin LaCelle Jr., of Central Valley Central School District; Jaiden Lawrence, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, and Caleb Bennett, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District.
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Conservation program junior Alex Scholl, of Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, poses with his animal conservation project on Tuesday, June 1, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Conservation program junior Chase Brewer, of Central Valley Central School District, poses with his animal conservation project on Tuesday, June 1, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Conservation program junior Katie Marhaver, of Central Valley Central School District, poses with her animal conservation project on Tuesday, June 1, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.