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School in the time of COVID-Robert Seibold

It was the Friday of Spring Break, and I had just woken up to get an email stating that we were to resume school as regular that upcoming Monday, despite the concern with the Coronavirus which had begun to be the full-blown pandemic that we are all familiar with by now.  My friend Crispy and I had been contemplating on this dreaded email the night before whilst sitting around the campfire just outside Grand Canyon National Park.  “Bummer gotta start driving back tonight”, we said and hit the Bright Angel Trail.  It was only but a mile and a half down when I got another email stating that we’d have an extra two weeks of Spring Break, tight!  It was a nice relief to be able to know I could stay adventuring out West for a longer time, but little did I know it was really the start of a global pandemic that would change everyone’s livelihood.  It’s bittersweet, but the pandemic allowed my friend and I to go see Death Valley and its otherworldly scenery, stay with some friends in Fresno, and make our way all the way to Big Sur and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

Grateful for our extended time but now fully concerned about the pandemic, we decided to make our way back to Athens with a week to get back to the reality of things before we resumed online classes.  Most folks I’ve talked to that are within Warnell or not haven’t been the greatest fan of online classes, probably because we love to be engaged and out in the field learning, not from a computer screen.  I can admit its been a struggle for me to stay engaged with online learning, I know I definitely gain a lot more from being in class than watching a lecture or PowerPoint online, but its what we’ve got to do to stay healthy and safe.  We recently got an email saying that we’d be going to back to school in the Fall; however, it is met with a measure of skepticism as everything still seems to be unsure and unlikely at the moment.  Thankfully for Warnell, it won’t be a huge transition to smaller class sizes because we are already accustomed to that luxury, however as the Dean has said we must take everything in stride and do our best for our Warnell family.  In the meantime, as the semester winds down and has some free time I think I’ll go canoeing with my friends and get up into the mountains to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.

Robert is a senior Forestry major here at Warnell

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My Texas Summer – Scarlet Barber

IMG_1497In the Fall of 2018, I accepted an internship with Georgia Pacific as a Wood and Fiber Supply Intern. Upon accepting this position, I had no clue where I would be located but I was excited and anxious to dive deeper into an internship similar to the career that I wanted to pursue. Fast forward to January of 2019, I learned that I would be located in the small town of Diboll, Texas for the summer. Learning that I was going to be twelve hours away from my friends and family made me nervous, but I was more than ready to take the leap and get out of my comfort zone.

After Forestry Field Camp in May, I packed up my Jeep and my dog and I headed halfway across the country. On my first day, I automatically felt more comfortable and wasn’t as nervous anymore. I spent my days at work learning about the day to day tasks of a procurement forester. I was able to shadow each of the six foresters and learn different tips, tricks, and experiences that they had to offer while traveling to logging sites. I also spent time at each mill in the scale house to learn about the different products that came in on the log trucks and how to associate the work done in the woods to assure quality finished products. During my internship, I traveled to several mills throughout East Texas as well as Louisiana and Arkansas. I used the information that I was learning to complete an assigned project to showcase my new skills and understanding.

I am very glad that I took the opportunity to venture out of what I was used to and learn something new. I met some wonderful people along the way and got to travel to some amazing places. If you are reading this now, I would like to encourage you to try something new even if you’re hesitant. You might just have one of the best experiences of your life!

Scarlet is a senior forestry student here at Warnell

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A Week at the Sunny Georgia Coast- Hannah Lou Young

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Hi! My name is Hannah Lou Young and I am a Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management senior at UGA. I am also a park ranger at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. My time at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources has been incredibly well spent. I transferred to Warnell from the University of North Georgia in spring of 2019. I really enjoyed my first semester at Warnell, spending time measuring trees and walking chains in Whitehall forest. My lab partner, Keri, from that first semester, is still my best friend!picture2blog

The Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management Maymester that is offered through Warnell is the best experience I have had in college. The Maymester is led by Kyle Woosnam and Kris Irwin, two of my favorite professors at the school. The Maymester takes PRTM students all over the state of Georgia, showcasing different career opportunities for our field. Students are encouraged to make meaningful connections with businesses and agencies they are interested in working for in the future. We spent a week at the sunny Georgia coast and another week in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. This Maymester experience helped me solidify the passion I had already developed for park management through my job at Fort Yargo. My favorite part about the PRTM Maymester is how many close friends you will make along the way. During this trip, you are able to form a bond with your PRTM cohort that picture1blogwill last long after graduation. I think that these bonds will be important because you will be working with these people professionally in the future.

I am so thankful for the friendships I have made, the knowledge I have learned, and the connections I have created during my time as a Warnell dawg.

Hannah is a senior Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management major

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All These Things Add Up- Keri Greeson

keri1Sometimes it can feel isolating to come to a place where you don’t exactly share a reality with your peers. As a non-traditional student who’s bounced a bit, I can relate to anyone who doesn’t have that linear path to a picture-perfect destination for their future.

I knew that I wanted to work outdoors since I was a kid. But my road to Warnell was a winding one, and it was required that I take all the turns that lead me here.

If I hadn’t worked so many service industry jobs, I wouldn’t have realized that I love talking to people and forming relationships with them. This created my foundation for pursuing environmental education. If I had never traveled, I wouldn’t have realized how connected the things beyond my own home are. This formed my interest in wanting to study how public lands are managed and how important community is. If I hadn’t taken a job at a local park, I wouldn’t have appreciated the effort it takes to break the earth and build the trails I walk on. This carved my passion for public service and natural resource management.

It’s not that I spent years going to school for the “wrong” things or that I worked the “wrong” jobs. I was exactly where I needed to be. And while it was easy to convince myself that I had only wasted my time, I realize now as I near my final credit hours that those things were the mortar securing my bricks in place.

If you’re a first-generation student, a transfer, a veteran, already have a family, or went back at a later age, you are not only well-equipped to handle the undertaking of an education, but your perspective is needed.

It’s not easy for anyone. But be assured that if you are here, you belong here.

Keri is a senior PRTM here at Warnell

 

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Reflections of a Past Internship -Cameron Pittman

Last semester I was fortunate to be able to intern at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. It was a goal that I had since freshman year to work with the collections. When I decided to apply for the internship last semester, I knew exactly which collection I would want to work with. Luckily, I knew this due to both my current area of study and plans for my future career. I applied and was accepted to work with the Vertebrate Collection under the supervision of Nikki Castleberry. Withcam blog post 25,000 mammal specimens, including study skins, skeletal material, and alcohol preserved materials, there’s plenty to see and experience.

At the beginning of the semester, the interns with the vertebrate collection were assigned the projects and jobs that would hopefully keep us busy for the semester. This held true, as there are still tasks, I wish I could have continued with or completed. A project that I was assigned to personally was the coral-cleaning project. Under the direction of Nicole Pontzer, Curatorial Staff, and administrator of the ichthyology and coral collections, I was set up to help restore the corals that had been transferred to the annex under undesired conditions. This consisted of the processes of soaking marked corals in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water and allowing them to rest out in the sun to assist in the “bleaching.” This would be a cycle where until the corals reached the desired cleanliness, the water would be changed and then taken out into the sun again. Depending on the size of the coral and the level of cleaning necessary, the process would take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. Over the semester, I had gone through about 50 coral pieces, and there is plenty more to work on. This being one of the projects that will require more time than I had.

A job that all the interns were assigned to was top off fluids in the range of the annex. We were to check fluid levels of the alcohol preserved specimens and top off with 70% ethanol if low. We were also to check lids and containers and replace jars or seals if needed. This was a project to make that required little effort and was suitable for those days that I did not want to get into a new project. The range holds over 1 million specimens of fishes with an emphasis on the southeastern United States fauna. This project just perpetually flows over from semester to semester, as the project will never be indeed done, and there will always be more fish to the top.

My favorite project has been the work dedicated to the whale collection. The museum holds the most extensive Minke whale collection in the U.S., and that’s only a fraction of the whales that are housed here. A part of the project was moving marine mammals to mezzanine as we needed more space on the ground floor. We were also tasked with whale-cleaning, where we scrubbed skulls and allowed them to dry in the sun. A remarkable opportunity was to help with the shipment of whales from Northeastern University, which also include the skeleton of a blue whale. We spent the day moving boxes and bones inside the annex, and it was outstanding seeing the size and condition of these specimen. This was an experience that I will share with others to summarize my experience with the museum.

My time with the museum has yielded many great opportunities. It honed many skills that I believe are necessary for when I graduate. My time management, organizational style, and team cooperation skills improved through my time there. I am thankful for this experience and hope to continue work in natural history work in the future.

Cameron is a fourth-year wildlife sciences major

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Glad I Took the Leap- Joseph Brown

blog postThis past summer I accepted an internship from the South Dakota State Department of Agriculture Resource Conservation and Forestry Division. I used this internship as an opportunity to also complete the internship requirement at Warnell. I lived in Rapid City, South Dakota at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology dorms. I did most of my work throughout the Black Hills and Custer State Park. My task varied from day to day and it was a very dynamic workplace. My week consisted of monitoring pine insect beetle populations, monitoring forest health, and implementing gypsy moth traps. I learned many new skills while working for those three months. It was a great experience and I’m truly grateful I was presented the opportunity to learn more about the field I am in. I also took advantage of the great fishing South Dakota and Wyoming have to offer while in the area. I spent many of my weekends camping and fishing in the backcountry. I also saw so many different species of wildlife that I have never seen before such as bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and elk. This was an extremely positive experience and I’m glad I took the leap of faith and traveled far from home. I gained some valuable knowledge and experiences during my time in South Dakota.

I never would have pictured myself doing anything like this 4 years ago, but Warnell pushed me to be the best I could be. I really love how Warnell encourages students to get hands-on job experience through internships. It is a great way for students to get real-life experience and decide they would like to work in a certain area. This also helps students have an upper edge on other candidates in the job field after graduation.

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We are the Body- Sarah Klinect

Klinect.Firephoto - CopyWhile I was in church a couple of weeks ago, the sermon was on the passage of scripture found in 1st Corinthians chapter 12 where Paul is discussing in his letter that the body of believers consists of one body with many members. The point of the passage is that the foot, eye, ear, and other seemingly unimportant members of the body can not exist and operate on their own, but instead they need to work together to be a functional body. I was struck by the similarities between the message of the passage and the temptation that may be present within the natural resource community. As a future forester, it is tempting to think that because I have knowledge about best management practices (BMPs), wildlife habitat requirements, and some human dynamics due to classes I have taken at Warnell that I know how to handle any natural resource issue, but that would be arrogant and irresponsible.

In my future career, I may need to consult with fellow professionals that specialize in policy, gopher tortoise habitat, or geographic information systems (GIS) to help determine the best management avenues to achieve management objectives. It would be unprofessional and unwise to think that I could determine the best course of action when I am a layman with certain topics. Just like the foot, eye, and ear in the biblical illustration, I need to realize that everyone in that fellow natural resource professionals are quintessential assets in determining the best management plans. Ignoring what my feet are doing and telling me would just cause me to stumble around and my productivity would be inhibited. I need to listen to those around me and consider their professional advice because ultimately it will strengthen my knowledge base and reflect respect and attention to my peers, colleagues, and counterparts.

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Sarah is a senior Foresty major

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Glad I Took the Leap – Ben Prot

Warnell’s job/internship board is perhaps the greatest resource you will use while in school. Internships are a great way to broaden your horizons. What you learn in class can be transferred to real work in the field. This past summer, I was an intern with the EE99A110-3F40-40A1-B996-D43D512B4D54US Fish and Wildlife Service at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Starkville, MS. I was hired as a forest technician to assist with whatever projects the forester and wildlife biologist at the refuge were working on that summer.

I spent my time conducting vegetation surveys, listening for calls during bird counts, applying herbicides, and interacting with the public. Doing this work, I was able to see and understand the realities of work outside of the academic realm. There is so much that you learn in class that can be expanded upon while working outside with professionals. Dendrology, field measurements, wildlife techniques, forest mensuration are all very important classes that you might take at Warnell; however, I believe that the skills learned in these classes are enhanced through practice and application in the woods.

I like to believe that most students in Warnell enjoy being outside in nature. If you end FC63698B-E4A4-45E5-902D-C26B327570A4up as an intern with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, you will essentially eat, sleep, and breathe the woods. I was outside all day, almost every day, working on the refuge, and I loved every minute of it. The work was not always easy. Our daily tasks could sometimes be laborious or menial, but it was truly rewarding to know that what we were doing had a positive physical impact on the plants and animals on the refuge. After my internship this summer, I Blog4wholeheartedly believe that if you love what you do, it will not feel like work.

I felt lucky to be out in the trees every day. That is why I highly recommend internships for all my cohorts. Even if you are nervous about an opportunity, I say take the leap. College is about trying new things and learning about who you are as a person. Internships are perfect for students that are just trying to see what kind of jobs they might want in the future. They are also great for establishingBlog3 professional connections and seeing how companies and organizations operate in the real world. You never know what road an internship might take you on: you might find a career, make great friends, see some wild things, or at least be surrounded by some trees. I had a wonderful experience last summer, and I know that I am glad that I took the leap and applied for my internship.

Ben is a senior Wildlife and Foresty student 

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Senior Project at Fort Yargo State Park- Jamie Madsen

As a senior at Warnell, I have the pleasure of taking the famous Senior Project this semester. Every student has to complete either senior project or senior thesis before they can graduate. As someone who plans to start working straight out of my undergrad, I chose senior project in hopes of gaining a little bit more real-world experience before I actually go out into the real world. So, what is senior project exactly? It is a group of interdisciplinary students from Warnell working together for a client in a related industry to create a project proposal that meets the needs and objectives of that client.

For my senior project, I am working with another PRTM major, and a wildlife (pre-vet) major and we are working on an Environmental Education (EE) project for Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. Having worked there last summer, I knew that the park manager, Julia Autry, was in need of a new interpretive center, and even had some ideas on how to make EE better at the park. So, the scope of our project is to propose three alternative plans on how Julia could potentially utilize the old visitor center for a new interpretive center, and how she could also increase the quality of the programs offered in order to increase visitation.

First, we gathered historical data from Julia to learn more about the history of EE at the park and how it currently operates. There are many different types of programs offered, but our main focus is the field trip/school programs. We learned that currently, the park has very few clients in the realm of EE, and we inferred that this might be a result of only having one part-time naturalist to run the EE program, and potentially a lack of advertising for the program.

Naturally, we all wanted to jump into the fun part and start planning the new interpretive center, and how we could grow the program. But we needed a way to narrow down our focus and find a theme to work with since we basically had a blank canvas and could take the project in any direction. So rather than following the temptation to make the interpretive center come to life as our wildest dreams, we decided that Fort Yargo would benefit most from catering to its own market. We designed a short survey to send out to elementary schools within a 20-mile radius of the park to give us feedback on a few things. The survey was filtered to ask different questions based on if the teacher had been to Fort Yargo or not. We asked questions to gauge what types of EE experiences teachers were looking for in field trips, why they had or had not taken their class to Fort Yargo, and what the biggest factor is in making the decision on where to go on a field trip.

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[Photograph: This is the inside of the old visitor center/new interpretive center that my senior project group will be redesigning as part of the enhancement of Fort Yargo State Park’s environmental education program (Winder, Georgia).]

At the current time, we are in the midst of collecting surveys, so the analysis and proposal have not been completed yet. My group and I are very pleased with the progress of our senior project, and are excited to see what kind of data we receive and how we can put that to good use in our recommendations for the environmental education platform at Fort Yargo State Park! Senior Project has been very exciting, and I can’t wait to put together the final project! Go Dawgs!

Jamie is a senior PTRM major here at Warnell

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Baptism by Fire- Katy Callaghan

This summer, I interned with USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never even heard of Wildlife Services, but I needed a summer job, so I accepted the position. If you have ever heard the saying “baptism by fire” this internship was exactly that. Wildlife damage management was a relatively new concept to me, as I had just finished my first year in the Warnell professional program, so an entire government agency dedicated to that, was fascinating.k1

Most of the employees at Wildlife Services are Warnell alumni, so they were great resources for my many questions about school and careers. My boss, Odin Stephens, was recently promoted to State Director when I started my internship. He learned about Wildlife Services when he started at Warnell, like I did, and made it his mission to work for them one day. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Warnell, and was hired soon after and has been working for the agency ever since.

The species that we most often dealt with were deer, feral pigs, geese, beavers, vultures, raccoons, and coyotes. “Busy work” around the office consisted of building vulture effigies, making snares and waxing foothold traps. I also addressed and stuffed envelopes for the annual rabies aerial bait drop program. I assisted in setting and running a trap line on a WMA in South Georgia to manages for doves and quail on their land. However, my favorite projects I worked on this summer had to do with feral pigs. They are fascinating animals and are incredibly smart, which makes managing them a real challenge. I really enjoyed learning about their behavior and biology in order to effectively mitigate the damage they cause in different situations. Overall it was a summer of firsts, I did countless things that were completely out of my comfort zone. I went home every day covered in dirt, blood, and sweat. This internship opened my eyes to an entirely different side of wildlife management. I now have a better understanding of why there is a need for wildlife damage management, and I plan to pursue a career in this field.

Katy Callaghan is a senior wildlife science major