One of the things I love about Warnell is the opportunities beyond the classroom. From clubs to field trips to conclaves, there is always something to do to expand on what I’ve learned in class. One of my favorite experiences thus far has been attending the National Wildlife Society conference hosted in Portland, OR this past October.
Being the nerd that I am, the idea of spending five days attending seminars, workshops, and research presentations sounded like a blast. But the experience was so much more than I expected. Before this year, I hadn’t attended a major conference, and I am so glad I went. Not only did I get to learn from wildlife professionals from all across the nation (and the world!), but I attended a field trip highlighting the unique geography and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, chat with students from Pennsylvania, California, and Canada about classes and professors, and compete against other teams in the wildlife student quiz bowl (UGA has the #3 team in the nation, no big deal…). I also had the opportunity to present research that I’ve been working on with a grad student, and getting feedback on my work from complete strangers who have been working in this profession for years was enlightening. Attending this conference let me see the importance of what I’m learning in classes here at Warnell and connect it all back to the real world. Participating in TWS at the national level expanded my view of the wildlife profession, and the importance on collaboration and cooperating as professionals.
I would never have had the chance to attend this conference if I wasn’t a part of Warnell. I had professors who encouraged me to attend, who put the time and effort into mentoring me through the research process, and who made sure I knew the state animal of Oregon just in case it was a quiz bowl question (it’s the American Beaver, just in case you were wondering…). My peers were incredibly supportive, practicing with the quiz bowl team, reviewing my research poster, calming me down when I couldn’t get the darn thing to print. I am incredibly grateful for this experience, and I wouldn’t trade it, or my time here at Warnell, for the world.