ANNAPOLIS, MD—Clemson Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Environmental and Natural Resources students attended the 7th North American Duck Symposium (NADS 7) as undergraduate interns for the James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Center, as a part of their creative inquiry program. While at the symposium, the students were awarded 2nd place internationally among all undergraduate submissions for their research poster, “Aquatic Invertebrate Biomass and Composition in Managed Coastal Carolina Wetlands.”

Carly Cofield and Steven Clements display their award-winning poster.

Carly Cofield and Steven Clements display their award-winning poster.

Stephen Clements, a senior from Mount Pleasant, and Carley Cofield, a senior from Moncks Corner, presented their research to a wide range of professionals. The symposium hosts researchers, students, government agencies, non-government conservation organizations, and land managers every 3 years, to communicate new scientific information and promote conservation of waterfowl habitats and populations.

The students’ research addressed aquatic invertebrate biomass and taxonomy in fresh, brackish, and saline wetlands along the coast of South Carolina. The aquatic invertebrates studied are a vital food source to waterfowl, providing protein and calcium needed prolonged flights during migration. Their research will serve as an instrumental tool to determine the health of managed coastal wetlands in South Carolina, where approximately 30% of dabbling ducks in the Atlantic flyway winter.

“Carley and I are truly grateful to have been awarded runner-up undergraduate poster at NADS 7. Along with the poster session, we had an opportunity to participate in a mentor-mentee session,” said Clements. “This allowed us to meet one on one with professionals in the waterfowl field and receive guidance, as we continue are education toward a career in waterfowl ecology and management. At the symposium, we made life-long friends with other undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as professionals from across the United States, Canada, and Europe.”

Including presenting their research, Clements and Cofield attended sessions with topics ranging from climate change to waterfowl breeding ecology. They also participated in workshops and two evening poster sessions.

“The opportunity for us to conduct research and attend professional meeting such as the NADS 7 are possible because of Clemson’s new Kennedy Center at the Baruch Institute,” said Clements. “We are grateful that there are generous conservationists such as Mr. Kennedy that support and encourage young professionals, such as ourselves, in our path of becoming the next generation of waterfowl biologist and managers.”

Kennedy Center Fellows

Kennedy Center Fellows

The James C. Kennedy Waterfowl & Wetlands Conservation Center allows students at Clemson University to take an active part in the conservation of South Carolina wetlands and waterfowl management.

“Ever since I joined the Kennedy crew everything in life has just fallen into place. All it took was a little hard work and dedication. Getting to experience hands on research, collaboration, networking, and these amazing conferences all before graduate school is truly a blessing,” said Cofield. “I would also like to recognize Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Rick Kaminski, the Director and mentor of the James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands program and Dr. Greg Yarrow for getting it all started and most importantly always believing in us.”