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Adapting Among the Butterflies

By Delaney Caslow a Fourth-year Wildlife Student

This past summer I had the opportunity to work at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) for the second year in a row. The nature center is a 127-acre property on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia. On their grounds they house many non-releasable native wildlife species, trails, ponds, a discovery center, butterfly tent, and much more. My position at CNC was a Butterfly Encounter Attendant (BEA) as well as a Visitor Services Associate. As a BEA I was responsible for educating the public about butterflies as well as ecology relating to pollinators, taking care of the butterflies, and ensuring that the public had a safe and informative visit. This year I was also given some additional tasks such as creating fact sheets and educational games. This past summer looked a lot different from the previous one because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but luckily (since we were mostly outside) we were able to safely open up the center to visitors.

Being able to (safely) interact with the public during the pandemic was quite interesting because I got to see firsthand the ways that workplaces/organizations were having to adapt. As the summer went on, there were many changes and alterations to make certain that both the staff and visitors felt comfortable. From the beginning, all staff were required to wear masks and they became a requirement for visitors as well about halfway through the summer. Time slots were created in which people had to sign up in advance and only a certain amount of people were allowed in every hour. The year prior we had about 1,500 people visit in one day for a festival, so changing to only 20 people entering per half-hour was quite a difference. Although we missed out on some aspects, this actually allowed for a much more personal and intimate experience that visitors really appreciated.

I learned so much during my two summers at CNC. The staff that I was so lucky to work with were not only extremely friendly and helpful people to engage with, but I was also able to take away many different skillsets and knowledge from them. I learned how to translate scientific concepts to different age groups, get people engaged with nature, and adapt to new and changing situations. Every day was unique and could turn into something different which made it really exciting. A few of the most noteworthy things that happened over my time at CNC were a summer tanager flying into the visitors center, a rat snake attempting to crawl into the butterfly encounter, and getting to watch a wild butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. I cannot thank the Chattahoochee Nature Center enough for giving me two amazing summers as well as teaching me so much about the environment and myself. If you are ever in the Roswell/Atlanta area go check them out!

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Life During a Pandemic

By: Isaac Beacorn – 4th year PRTM Major

A power outage at work one night from a heavy storm during quarantine

We can all agree that 2020 has not been the best year. It started off with the death of Kobe Bryant, then the wildfires in Australia, and then it was a continuous downward spiral of bad news after bad news. And where are we now? It is now October and we have now made it through 6 full months of a global pandemic. In that 6-month time-frame, people have had numerous challenges, both personal and professional. Maybe they were laid off. Maybe they had to learn new technology skills to adequately perform their work on a new program they were unfamiliar with, like Zoom. Mental illness could have taken its toll during quarantine, and made life even tougher. Not to mention the racial/social injustices, protests, and court decisions that circulated national news. These 6 months have not been easy, and the furthest thing from normal.

            To say anyone’s daily routine is the same as before the pandemic would not be accurate. Countries around the world have more stringent rules/laws regarding masks and public gatherings. Numerous cities in the U.S. have different rules. Even the size of the community plays a role, as more rural places are probably not far off from their typical “normal,” but that is not the case everywhere. Now more than ever people are realizing that things can change pretty dang fast, but that might be a good thing.

Tallulah Falls in Northern Georgia

            Personally, that change was focusing less on the monotony of the daily routine and cherishing the moments with people around me more. I’m from Oconee County, just outside of Athens, and we haven’t had a whole lot of change like most other places but we aren’t as populated as most other places either. I had a pretty steady routine, so it was a huge hit when classes went online, stores shut down (in the beginning of the pandemic), local parks blocked off fields and basketball courts, and it left me with not a whole lot to do. I was still working, but with only work and school things got pretty boring really fast. My escape began to take place, which ended up going for runs, bike rides, practicing my basketball skills, or working out at home. Essentially, my escape was being outside and active. Soon after, some restrictions began to be lifted and it was a little safer. So, my coworkers and I would play sports on Sundays or go for weekend day-hikes, really anything safe to spend time together (even if it was just for a short bit). Work even began to feel more special. The outside world was filled with fear and uncertainty, and this brought almost everyone I worked with together and we were able to become even closer than before.

            Then, at the beginning of August, me and a few friends were able to have an escape of our own. We all enjoy the outdoors, so we decided to go up to one of their grandparents’ cabin outside of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Although it was only for a few days, it was a tremendous amount of fun (we stayed safe, and followed all suggested protocols for prevention of COVID-19). We hiked, saw waterfalls, and basically just enjoyed the outdoors. It was a blessing just being able to get away from the stress and uncertainty that awaited us back home. It was definitely my highlight for the year, let alone the COVID-19 pandemic.

A view while backpacking some of the Georgia AT portion over the summer

            As a student, it is very easy to get caught up in the weekly assignments, stress of school, and overall busy-ness of life (especially if you also work). This pandemic showed the negative side of life, with the natural disasters/deaths/riots, but with that it also gave people an opportunity to experience an extraordinary life and build stronger memories with those that we love. Now I don’t know how much longer this pandemic will go on for, but I do know that if we all want to get through it, we need to cherish the small moments and the people around us more. Yes, school is important, work is important, and making sure bills are paid on time is important. However, spending quality time with family and friends is also important. Without these people and the seemingly insignificant moments, our life would be as mundane as can be. Go have some fun in this sometimes-bleak world, and make those special memories.

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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.

Group-silly

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