By Katheryn L. Sullivan Kutil on July 17, 2018

James Sikarskie, DVM, MS, DACVM, associate professor for the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and clinician for the Hospital’s Zoo and Wildlife Service, was one of three distinguished wildlife researchers selected as a mentor for the National Eagle Scout Association’s (NESA) World Explorers Program.

Each year since 2012, NESA has offered the World Explorers Program, a competition where Eagle Scouts apply to be paired with world-class researchers at sites around the globe. To date, more than 50 Eagle Scouts have earned the distinction to be considered a NESA World Explorer. In addition to the requirements of being an Eagle Scout who is at least 18-years-old, applicants also must be majoring or working in a related field of the expedition to which they’re applying.

One of this summer’s expeditions featured a trip to Northern Michigan (Munising) and Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, where researchers, clinicians, professors, and the like studied Bald Eagles alongside two Eagle Scouts from the World Explorers Program.

The Eagle Scouts who were selected are Austin Katzer from Texas and Connor Hodges from Pennsylvania. The Scouts spent two weeks conducting Bald Eagle research with Sikarskie, Bill Bowerman, PhD, MA, professor and department chair for the University of Maryland’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Technology, former Eagle Scout Dave Best, retired research biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Teryl Grub, former Navy Seal and certified rock climbing instructor for the US Forest Service.

In the 1980s, Sikarskie and Bowerman conducted research together at MSU, where they used the Bald Eagle as an indicator of environmental quality in the Great Lakes Basin. Sikarskie has conducted Eagle research for more than 40 years and enjoyed researching with his colleagues and sharing his knowledge with the Scouts.