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Kinnevan, Stuber Honored with Wildlife Leadership Awards

Junior wildlife major Evan Kinnevan pictured with a wolf skull on Isle Royale. Junior wildlife majors Evan Kinnevan and Jade Stuber have been honored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with 2022 Wildlife Leadership Awards.

The Wildlife Leadership Awards were established in 1991 to recognize, encourage and promote leadership among future wildlife management professionals by awarding a $5,000 scholarship and one-year Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation membership to juniors and seniors chosen for their leadership ability, dedication to wildlife conservation and scholastic achievements.

Meet Evan Kinnevan

Kinnevan completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue in 2019, and is now working toward a degree in wildlife biology. He has completed undergraduate research under Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty into the food prey base of American burying beetles (Nicrophorus spp.) through stable isotope analysis, and presented his findings at the Purdue Undergraduate Research Symposium. Kinnevan received the Claude C. Gladden Memorial Scholarship and the Martell Leadership Scholarship, which are given based on academic achievement and professional potential, at the 2022 FNR Awards Banquet in April.

“Evan has become a notable leader in our program,” said Flaherty, associate professor of wildlife ecology and habitat management. “I had the pleasure of working with Evan as a student in my Wildlife Investigational Techniques course this spring, have supervised him on an undergraduate research project in my lab over this last academic year, and work with him as a student in our student chapter of The Wildlife Society. Evan was recently elected to be the Hunting Working Group Leader in our TWS chapter, but even before taking on the official role, has served as a leader.

Junior wildlife major Evan Kinnevan with a duck box he worked on with the Purdue student chapter of The Wildlife Society.“Because he so clearly knows what he wants to do, he is incredibly enthusiastic about coursework, research, and club activities and his classmates really look to him as a role model and leader. He is usually the first student to ask a question in class, the first to volunteer to try a new technique in lab, the person leading the pack of students on a hike, etc. Similarly, while working in my research lab, I could trust him to process stable isotope samples without looking over his shoulder, which is a testament to both his maturity and confidence in his career interests.”

In his role as hunting working group leader for TWS, Kinnevan works to educate other students on the broad dynamics within hunting through inviting guest speakers, attending hunter’s education courses and organizing guided hunts. Through this role he hopes to challenge the stigmas some have toward hunting and broaden their horizons.

In addition to his involvement in TWS, Kinnevan has been volunteering with Purdue’s songbird banding research station, collecting measurements using U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data collection protocols, training newer volunteers on these protocols and leading demonstrations for courses studying animal extraction techniques.

This summer, Kinnevan worked for Environmental Solutions and Innovations (ESI) as a field technician searching for populations of endangered rusty-patched bumblebees (Bombus affinis) and performed bumblebee population surveys as part of the Great Lakes Restoration initiative.

Evan Kinnevan with a harp net trap.Kinnevan also participated in a joint project between ESI and The Nature Conservancy, harp net trapping Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) at a hibernaculum in southern Indiana.

Previously, Kinnevan has had leadership roles with the Honda Development and Manufacturing of Indiana’s PRISM (LGBTQ+) outreach group, serving as co-chairman, and also within the Purdue Student Government, which he served as a senator and chairman of the internal affairs committee.

“I started off my academic and professional career with the mindset of an engineer and the heart of an ecologist,” Kinnevan said. “Initially, I planned to graduate as an engineer and one day work towards applying it for conservation uses. After I graduated and experienced the workforce, I realized this was the wrong pathway. My goal for the future is to continuing leading and imparting the knowledge I gained along the way to those around me. I want to lead research projects focused around understanding the threats native species are facing. I feel my skillset is unique and want to incorporate my previous engineering design experience into this field by developing new techniques or technologies.”

Meet Jade StuberJade Stuber holds a snake

Stuber has been involved in the natural resources field since volunteering to plant native trees at Salamonie State Park in 2016. She has returned to the park acting as a seasonal employee since 2018 and also has worked at Prophetstown State Park and the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

Stuber, who received a Martell Leadership Scholarship at the 2022 FNR Awards Banquet, was involved in FFA and 4-H before coming to Purdue and has since been a part of Helping Paws, a club in which students volunteer at an animal shelter that prevents domestic animals from disturbing wildlife and their habitats. She was a member of her high school FFA chapter for five years, acting as the president in 2018-19, a position which saw her organize events and support her fellow members. Stuber was elected as president of Helping Paws in the fall of 2021, helping lead her fellow officers in restarting the club at Purdue after it was discontinued due to the pandemic in 2020. In her role as president, she organized meetings, trips to the local animal shelter twice a week, donation drives for the shelter and a trip to Wolf Park.

"Jade is ambitious, sometimes taking on several commitments in one semester," said Maria Leatherwood, senior academic advisor. "Being selected to these positions and as a recipient of our own leadership award in the department is a testament to her excellent time management and dedication. When we first met, Jade shared that she wanted to work as a conservation officer. She knew the career wouldn't require a wildlife bachelor's degree, but she was dedicated to learning more about wildlife management to collaborate and be an asset to the field. In pursuit of this goal, she also has pursued a law and society minor at Purdue, meant for students with an interest in criminal justice. She also has talked with conservation officers at our parks and pursued experiences to shadow and intern with other wildlife professionals through our state parks. She has been an exemplar student in pursuing experiences in and outside of our department."

As a seasonal worker at Salamonie State Park, Stuber has worked as a gate attendant and security guard, engaging with the public and addressing issues and answering questions about the park and natural resources. She also has helped clear out invasive species like Amur honeysuckle. In 2020, she worked at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, helping connect people with zoo exhibits, which focus on educating peopleJade Stuber holds a frog on the importance of wildlife, endangered species in particular. In 2021, Stuber worked as a security guard at Prophetstown State Park.

Stuber, who is set to graduate in December 2023, looks to continue a lifelong love of nature in her future career.

“I grew up on a farm, therefore practically all of my life I have spent outdoors,” Stuber said. “As a child, I would collect rocks, look for signs of wildlife and help my parents on the farm. With my wildlife degree I want to be able to conserve natural land, manage wildlife species and help the people around me. My career goals are to become a wildlife officer in Tennessee or a wildlife biologist.”

About The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Included in the hunting heritage part of this mission is supporting the education and development of wildlife professionals grounded in the North American Model of Wildlife Management.

The application for the Wildlife Leadership Award requires applicants to answer essay questions ranging from his/her hobbies and leisure activities, to leadership activities, employment and volunteer experience, the role of hunting in conservation, critical conservation issues and career goals as well as submit two letters of recommendation.

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