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WSU wildlife conservation projects to continue

With all of the clubs, majors and extracurricular activities offered at Weber State University, students and teachers have many opportunities to do service work in their community. However, some teachers have taken it upon themselves to provide an opportunity for a far-reaching service opportunity.

“I want to provide my students with ways to get involved in civic and political activities,” said WSU zoology professor Sam Zeveloff. “I want them to not only see the issues, but also to provide them with ways that they can get involved.”

Students in Zeveloff’s mammalogy classes have organized two of these projects in the last few years. They are currently in the planning stage of organizing another project for next year. Zeveloff has teamed up with other organizations to raise awareness and funds to help protect animals being poached.

In fall of 2011, Zeveloff’s mammalogy students completed a rhino conservation project to raise awareness among WSU students about the poaching of rhinos. In fall 2012, they did a project for elephants. Both of these projects have now started a tradition through the zoology department.

Renee Linford and Destiny Dawson, WSU graduates, were two of the six students who were a part of this project.

“We were supposed to raise awareness in the local community for our piece of the project,” Linford said. “Instead of just making them feel bad, we thought we should give people a way to help and do a fundraiser.”

Getting a project like this started took considerable planning with a lot of different directions.

“We thought about selling T-shirts and random things, and then it came to us: Let’s do an art auction,” Linford said.

With that idea in place, Dawson said they knew there were going to need help to get everything off the ground.

“We started planning by asking some faculty members for help,” she said, “and we reserved the art gallery in the union building. We realized very quickly that we really needed help to pull this off.”

Linford and Dawson worked with other students and the community to compile a variety of artwork to sell at the silent auction. They received artwork from Farr West Elementary School students, local artists, students and teachers.

“Once people found out what was really going on, they were really blown away,” Linford said. “They really wanted to help, even if it was just a little.”

They held a silent auction for the artwork, raising $720. They donated the money to the International Rhino Foundation.

“My favorite part of this project was seeing people come in and respond to what we were doing and realizing what was going on,” Dawson said. “It really made the whole thing worthwhile.”

Linford and Dawson agreed that the project helps connect those involved to the world around them.

“This project helps students realize how we are all connected.” Dawson said. “A lot of times, people think that it has nothing to do with them. But we are all part of the world, and it’s important to realize and be sympathetic to what’s going on. These subjects don’t get a lot of attention, but this is so important.”

After the kickoff project for the rhinos and the follow-up for elephants, Linford said, this opportunity will hopefully continue next fall.

“I hope that it keeps going,” she said. “It’s hard to be a student in wildlife conservation and having so many things that you want to do and no way to do it.”

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