That is how much time I will have spent in Warnell’s professional program. Those 628 days have been busy. 215 days spent in internships. 431 days in class. Countless hours in lab (Google can’t calculate that for me, shame). On May 5th, it will be over. I will cross the figurative finish line. And among all the stress of GREs, exams, job searching, guide dog raising, senior thesis, etc., etc., I find myself stressing over whether or not I’ve used all these days to the best of my ability. Did I take advantage of every opportunity?
To all of you incoming professional students, don’t give yourself room to question. Go to that Wednesday night meeting even though you had two test today and another tomorrow. Go to that networking event even though you’ll overanalyze every single thing you said in that one hour for the next two weeks of your life. Apply for that internship you aren’t 100% qualified for (you’re awesome, you got this). Try out for conclave (I promise you’re good at something). Study vert for one more hour (when you don’t mix up a mule deer antler with a white-tailed deer antler, you’ll thank me). Go to that conference. Try something you have never done before. Go on that crazy amazing field trip that sounds way too good to be true (I’m talking about you, Sapelo). Do all of this and not only will you have fewer regrets, you will walk away with things you didn’t expect. Great friends, better grades, more experiences and confidence, and a small part of your brain that now houses the scientific names for hundreds of species you’ll want to share with the world.
Despite my worry over whether or not the hours of my days were spent well, I know for a fact they were spent in the right place. I am thankful for the opportunities Warnell has provided, the internships I was honored to receive, the scholarships I was awarded, and the friends I gained along the way. The only reason I have room to wonder if I did enough is because Warnell has so much to offer, and so many things to fill the days with.
How will you spend your 628 days?
Our country’s population is growing more and more diverse every single day. As a reflection of our society, we must strive to seek and understand the need in promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the natural resources field.
The natural resources field has always been a tight-knit community that can easily get separated from the public. Because of this, our field is hidden and recruitment among minority students is often low. It can feel isolating. There are a lot of factors that come into play with low recruitment, but overall, we should commit to creating an inclusive environment to allow students to freely explore the natural resources field, and hopefully stay to find a career. Expanding access to the outdoors and environmental education for underrepresented and minority groups is one way to achieve this goal. This is especially significant when speaking on the importance of national and state parks. These public parks allow the general public to have access to outdoor recreation and enjoyment. If you do not have access to private land to explore, this is where the importance of public parks comes in. Another way to promote diversity in the science field is to provide mentoring and hands-on experience to youth. This can be done through outdoor sports, hunting, hiking, and even environmental education. Many of us can remember back to one specific moment or idol where our interest in the environment was ignited. For me, it was Steve Irwin and his engaging love for wildlife. By providing these moments for youth, we can act as those idols to allow their love of science to flourish.
We should embrace our all of our differences because diversity is essential for quality and productive teams. We know the importance of biodiversity in the environment, so why not should we strive for it within our own lives? We all approach the world differently, and often, having these different experiences allow us to see things in a different way from someone next to us. We need these challenging and polar views to question ourselves and what we believe to be true. At the same time, a student connecting with similar students helps find community when you might not see people like yourself around you. While this push for diversity can be constructive, we must be careful to not take this as a burden of task or filling niches. Instead, we should focus on widening our doors for all students, regardless of identity. When we are inclusive, we all benefit.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
— Maya Angelou
One essential and great component of the Warnell curriculum is a professional experience. It is a great chance to get out in the field and see what you can do with your degree, whether that be a Maymester or summer field course, or an internship experience. This summer, I got the chance to do both.
I realized in my first semester in Warnell I was either going to have to take a heavier load of classes during the school year or take a class over the summer. Luckily for me, Warnell offers a Maymester course about fish in the field. This course counts for the professional experience requirement and fulfills a needed class. It seemed too good not to take, so I did. I spent the next three weeks fishing everyday, whether it be seining, backpack or boat electro fishing, or using a rod and reel. We started out camping in the mountains, and learning about brightly colored stream fish in cold waters. We then stayed in Athens for the next week and ventured out everyday to go sample for local, warmwater species. For the last week, we go to the coast and were able to go into the marshes and beach to find marine species.
While we were on Maymester, I got a chance to also see what I would be doing for the summer. I was hired as a field technician for the Sturgeon lab, and from that I got a summer filled with new opportunities for learning skills that I would use for the rest of my life. I worked on a boat everyday, and got to do everything. I backed in trailers, drove the boats, set and pulled nets, mended nets, and was able to handle an endangered species. I was able to help monitor their population for recovery.
For some, the professional experience requirement is annoying and takes away from an easy summer. But for me, it was the most fun summer I have had. The summers that we get in college are limited, and while they may one of the last few times we get a “break” before we start a career, I urge you to make the most of them. There are so many options that Warnell offers, whether it’s through exciting Maymesters and summer classes or the job board that offers internships and jobs, taking these opportunities can tremendously help you get to know people in the field and acquire those skills needed for future jobs. They can also give you a chance to get away and experience something new for a while. You’ll never know until you get out there and try.
Hello my name is Knox Martin and I am writing to new students interested in getting “plugged” in to a variety of organizations across campus. Being a student associated with Warnell, I am grateful to be included in many smaller clubs and groups. The ambassador program is phenomenal and being a part of such a gifted group of well-minded students has excelled my leadership capabilities. That being said, I did not just wake up one morning and have positions handed to me. They were earned through dedication, determination, and persistence. If you are a student and interested in any kind of position with responsibility, I have a few tips for you.
First, be approachable. Although we all have bad days, try your best to put on a smile and generally be interested in what others have to say and think.
Second, be able to navigate conversations well. Learning how to communicate with others well will go very far with faculty, staff, peers, etc. Warnell especially has had a few problems in the past with students not being as great as communicating as students from other schools.
Third, put your best foot forward. Know your strengths and weaknesses and how to utilize your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. People don’t have to know everything about you. Convey your best qualities and people will know you by them.
I hope this column helps a student looking to fulfill a role and or position in any part of life. Thank you for reading. Go Dawgs!
Students join the Warnell School for a variety of reasons, but I feel the main reason for joining is because they love the outdoors. These students want an opportunity to get a job in which they can be involved with something they love, the outdoors! I know this was the reason that I became a student here at Warnell. Outside is my second home. If I’m not hunting then I’m fishing, if I’m not fishing then I’m probably walking around in the woods, and if I’m not doing any of these things then I am probably working outside and loving every minute of it.
Coming into Warnell, I thought I knew a great deal about the natural world around me. I mean after all, I spent as much time there as I could, I have read countless books about it, and also I was 20 years old and should know everything about everything right? Boy was I wrong. Let me tell you something people, never in my life have I learned so much as in the past year and a half here at Warnell. The thing is though, what I have learned is not just knowledge that I can regurgitate, what I have learned has shaped the way that I view the outdoors. The place that I thought I knew so much about has taken on a completely different meaning to me now. After learning so much, I truly feel that before I was just wandering around aimlessly in the woods, not actually thinking about what was actually going on around me. Now, with every step I take in the woods, I am thinking about something new. I am asking myself; “Why is that tree growing there? What kind of food is available to wildlife in this area? Could you do a successful shelterwood cut and regeneration in this hardwood stand? I wonder what kind of soil class this is? Why are there more deer tracks in this area than that one?” Being a student in Warnell has completely changed my outlook on what I love the most, and I feel that I am a better student, outdoorsman, and person because of it. My challenge to everyone involved with the outdoors is to learn as much as you can about it. Maybe you will gain a new perspective and a new appreciation for it, just as I have.
As a nervous sophomore, I walked into the office of Warnell’s Career Service Coordinator, Ami Flowers, and prepared to drastically change my career plan. I was going from a Biology major with the lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian to a Wildlife Science major with an unknown future. After discussing this plan, Ami mentioned to me that Warnell offered a dual program in which students could earn Wildlife degree as well as a Forestry degree with just one additional semester of classes. For someone who had just thrown every previous life plan out the window with no idea of what was to come, this sounded like a good deal to me. So, that day I went back to my house, logged onto Degreeworks, and became a dual Forestry and Wildlife Science student.
I didn’t know the first thing about forestry, and not much about wildlife science when I stepped into Warnell on my first day of classes. Amongst the confusion of navigating which buildings were 1 and 4, I made a few friends along the way; ones that would become my family. What I did expect from this school were late nights studying subjects I was unfamiliar with, but what I didn’t expect was to be welcomed into the most amazing familial atmosphere I have ever experienced. What I didn’t expect was to meet some of my best friends.
I believe that my decision to seek a dual degree has allowed me to foster these friendships with students and professors in both fields. This has been, by far, the coolest opportunity that I have had in my college career. In one day, I go from learning the basics of Forest Mensuration, calculator in hand, with Dr. Bullock, to laughing in Mammalogy as Dr. Castleberry makes his clever jokes about whatever mammals we are studying that day.
I see this especially on field trips taken outside of school. I recently attended the Mammalogy field trip with several other students. I remarked at how easily we all got along with each other. This summer, I attended Forestry Field Camp with around 30 other forestry students. The three weeks we spent together were full of long hours and hard work, but also of laughter and new friendships. From both of these trips, I have learned how great it is to have friends in both the forestry program and the wildlife program, the best of both worlds. It’s these moments that make Warnell home to me and why I will be forever grateful that I was convinced to do both.
This summer I participated in an internship called Research Experience for Undergraduates (R.E.U.). This is a program that is funded by the National Science Foundation that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research at a host institution. This program offers research in many different scientific fields at a number of different universities across the United States and even in a few foreign locations. The program has the most opportunities in the summer, but does offer some research experience during the spring and fall semesters. Most internships are for ten weeks and housing and a stipend are provided to students as compensation for conducting research.
I was at the college of William and Mary at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducting a genetic assessment on Atlantic Bay Scallops. It was a great opportunity to gain some knowledge on marine sciences. I also was interested in this program because I would like to attend graduate school. The research I did was very independent and gave me a glimpse as to what it takes to achieve a masters degree. VIMS is a graduate school, so everyday I was surrounded by students that talked with me about their experiences looking at and getting into graduate school.
Warnell provided me with field experience that I used when I went to collect samples of scallops along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I also had previous experience working in a genetic lab, which probably helped me secure a position in this specific program. I had to write a paper at the end of the summer and present my work. I learned so much about how to represent my research and how to talk science to people.
The program also provided fun trips for the students. We went out on a research vessel to collect water samples along the York river. We also took a kayaking trip along the Pamunkey river and learned about the early history of the Chesapeake Bay. This program gave me so much more than I expected and I had an amazing time doing it. I made friends for life as well as connections in the marine science field. I was even nominated by the program to present my work at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography conference in Honolulu, HI in February 2017. I am so thankful I had this opportunity and I know that my time at Warnell helped get me there.