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Many projects and cases require a multidisciplinary approach, and this is certainly true in the case of animal law. Biologists, veterinarians, lawyers, and other professionals often work together towards the common goal of protecting animal health and welfare. Therefore, preparing students for work in their respective professions, as well as to serve on multi-disciplinary teams, is important.
Since 2013, the Florida A&M University and Florida State University (FAMU-FSU) College of Engineering has provided undergraduate and graduate engineering, science, and environmental policy students the unique opportunity to learn about the law as it relates to their areas of study. A course titled “Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy for Engineers and Science Majors” is taught from the perspective of an attorney and professional engineer. Students learn about the structure of the U.S. legal system, the major federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act, discuss important international issues including trade and the environment, and more.
On April 10, 2018, as part of their curriculum, students were able to apply some of what they learned to the subject of wildlife management. A visit to the Tallahassee Museum was coordinated by Ralph Demeo, Past Chair of the Animal Law Section (ALS), and John Powell, ALS Member and Adjunct FAMU-FSU Professor.
The tour started with a lecture by the Museum’s Animal Curator and Conservation Program Specialist regarding regulations, permitting, inspections, and special requirements associated with managing injurious and venomous wildlife. Other topics including the importance of genetic diversity and stem cell research, as well as the challenges associated with reintroducing wildlife into their natural habitats, were discussed. The tour ended with a behind-the-scenes look at museum operations and the animals. Students observed firsthand the importance of species preservation while interacting with larger-than-life wild animals including red wolves, black bears, grey foxes, and Florida panthers, a learning experience they won’t soon forget.
*John K. Powell, J.D., P.E., is an Adjunct Professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and Environmental Services and Facilities Director at the City of Tallahassee. He is a member of the Wildlife Committee of the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar.