Haywood Community College recently awarded two Fish and Wildlife Management students, Jacob Longworth and Alex Wilson, the 2013 Dave Dudek Wildlife Award. These students are the first recipients of this new annual award which results in a $250 scholarship. The award is named for retired Fish and Wildlife instructor and the founding advisor of the HCC student chapter of The Wildlife Society, Dave Dudek.

Dudek says that HCC was the first school to have a student chapter of the Wildlife Society. “It was really important that the society recognized that these wildlife technicians are acknowledged as professionals. It opens doors and opportunities for these students to be a part of this society. It gives credence to the program and allows them to network. To be accredited was recognition for the graduates of the program.”

Over the last 10 years, the HCC student chapter of The Wildlife Society and the North Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society has raised $15,000 to create the Dave Dudek Wildlife Award, a scholarship fund to support the education of HCC Fish and Wildlife Management Technology students. The fund has now been endowed by the HCC Foundation.

The award is presented to two Fish and Wildlife students who are on track to graduate in the following spring. The award is designed to recognize outstanding leadership, scholarship, and dedication to the wildlife management profession.

Applicants are scored on their current grade point average; chapter involvement with events such as Big Sweep, Jammin’ at the Millpond, and Forest Festival Day; and professional development through volunteer experience at natural resource conservation agencies.

In addition to the cash award, student names will be engraved on a plaque that will be displayed in the Natural Resources department.

Longworth plans to continue his education after he finishes HCC. “I enjoy the fact that the HCC program is hands-on,” he explains. “You are out in the field and get to see what you will be doing on the job.” He would like to either work as a wildlife biologist or wildlife officer.

Wilson also plans to continue his education. At HCC, he is President of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society. “It was an easy choice for me to come to HCC because I have always been fascinated with the outdoors,” Wilson says. “I enjoy being part of one of the most active wildlife clubs in the state.” He would like to one day achieve title of master bird bander and hopes to work to conserve and protect the avian species.

Dudek told the students that they are part of a legacy. “Be proud of yourself. You have dedicated yourselves to a profession that embraces the stewardship of natural resources. We look to you as our future, to safeguard our resources.”

For more information about HCC’s Fish and Wildlife program or the HCC student chapter of The Wildlife Society, please call 627-4592.