As many of you know, my oldest root is in college. Having a college student that isn't attending school close by can often be difficult and even with just a few hours between us, coordinating a time when no one has a sporting event or work to take care of can be tricky. Luckily for us, one of the more important events that we wanted to attend and show support for was the annual Beast Feast put on by The Wildlife Society of Tennessee Tech University. This year is my oldest root's first year as a transfer student to Tennessee Tech, and she has become the Communications Officer for The Wildlife Society. This was one of her goals when joining the club just one semester earlier. The passion she has for our wildlife truly gives me the proud momma bear warm and fuzzies. With more than 2 years under her belt working for our Tennessee State Parks system, she has helped to rehabilitate injured animals as well as educate others on caring for wildlife indirectly. When she asked us to attend this fundraiser for something near and dear to her heart, we cleared schedules and made arrangments.
Beast Feast not only offered the general public an opportunity to sample different types of wild game prepared in a variety of ways but also a chance to purchase or bid on goods that had been donated by both local businesses and online retailers. When the root told me months before the event they would be doing silent auctions as well as giveaways to try and raise money for an upcoming convention, I was all in. I love to see motivated young people try and make a difference and do something positive, and I wanted to do my best to help. I began contacting online retailers of handmade goods to see if they would be interested in contributing to the event, and the response was beyond generous and heartwarming. Many of the artists and crafters had in one way or another been involved with their local wildlife organizations and were more than willing to do what they could to make sure that this group of young adults would be able to attend the 2018 Tennessee Wildlife Society Southeastern Student Conclave, a 4-day convention filled with hands-on instruction and workshops on wildlife management and conservation. This year's Conclave would be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and for many college students, this is a big opportunity to learn and grow in their field.
When we arrived in Cookeville, our first stop was our Air BNB. This was our first experience using Air BnB, so I was a bit nervous. When we pulled in and were greeted by the amazing host, we knew it was a far better decision than a boring hotel. It was located just beside the host's main residence but was a completely separate cabin style getaway. The deck overlooked their lovely farm, and despite the forecast telling us that we were in for rain, we were more than happy to take advantage of the swing on the porch and the cozy interior. I'm glad that we gave this place a go because we now know exactly where we want to stay now when visiting the university in the future.
After checking in, we immediately drove to the Tennessee Tech University campus. The two little roots were so anxious to see their big sister, we wasted no time getting there for a visit. It was so nice for the tiny roots to see where she attends college for the first time and to also get a glimpse into the life of a hard-working college student. We took a brief tour of the campus and she showed us where she attends her classes. As the weather started to get slightly questionable, we decided to head over to the location of the event and see what Beast Feast had to offer. As we arrived at the event location, it was buzzing with excitement as members of the Wildlife Society prepared for a big crowd. There were tables of yummy smelling dishes prepared by club members, family, friends, and of course, yours truly. Each dish had to be prepared using wild game. I made a venison and wild boar chili prepared with meat that was donated by my husband's good friend and boss at Brentwood Plumbing. Now, I'm not a wild game eater myself, but if I were going to jump head first into something based solely on how amazing it all smelled, I would have done a major swan dive into my chili. TOOT TOOT! It was amazing if I do say so myself, and apparently the guests thought so, as well, because the pot was empty by the end of the evening. Attendance was fantastic. I was so thrilled to see the local community be so supportive of what these young adults were doing.
The silent auction was a complete success. I want to thank all of the wonderful vendors that helped out by donating some amazing products. I am humbled by the outpouring of support shown to us and to the Wildlife Society of TTU. A huge thank you to the following artists for the donated items. The photographs do not do these lovelies justice:
- Gypsy Junk Clothing (Raise Boys shirt)
- Near and Deer (Taxidermy)
- Stickers by Casey (Wildlife Decal)
- Cats Eye Pottery (Serving Plate)
- Flustered Accessories (Deer Poop Necklace) I still can't stop laughing at this one
- Essie's Treasures (Gourd Birdhouse)
- Mrs. DD Crafts (Pillow cover and Pillow)
- Bottlescape Studio (Terrarium Necklace) One of my favorite items
In the end, the hard-working members of Tennessee Tech University's Wildlife Society were able to attend the 2018 TWS Southeastern Student Conclave. They were able to expand their knowledge in their fields of study while establishing relationships that will enrich their lives beyond measure. Again, thank you to all those who participated and made a difference.