Warnell is an awesome place to be—we have some of the biggest perks in our school such as free printing, numerous resources and labs, and outstanding students and professors, just to name a few. From your very first Warnell class you begin gaining field skills that are invaluable and will always put you ahead of your competition when you start your job search. But Warnell offers a whole lot more than just the classroom and Whitehall forest experience. We have an incredible amount of opportunities to get out in the field and put our skills to the test. There are study abroad trips geared directly towards our courses as well as class field trips that allow you to spend a weekend in the field. While I have not had the opportunity to go on one of the many study abroad trips, I have had some amazing experiences on field trips.
My favorite field trip has been the trip that my mammalogy class took to the Jones Center in South Georgia. The focus of our trip was to trap for mammals, both big and small. The very first day we went trapping for large mammals, like coyotes and bobcats, and boy was it an eye opener. Of course I had been exposed to the concept of “bait” in my wildlife techniques class, but there’s nothing quite like catching a whiff of bobcat urine followed by the enticing sent of rotting insides of rats (sorry for the description, but it’s nothing compared to actually being there!) After we set 30 of these traps, we went back to camp to start our small mammal trapping—which was much less abusive to my sense of smell. We dug out gopher holes, set box traps, and even painted mice and rats (see the picture!) The purpose of painting the rodents was to come back later at night and note their habitat use—we used florescent paint and black lights and it looked like we were attending a tiny little rave!
After a night of bat catching, star gazing, infrared camera tracking, and a good night’s rest, it was time to go back out to check our large mammal traps. After coming up to many unsuccessful traps, we finally noticed something caught in a trap up ahead. As we got closer, I realized that it was one of the traps that I had set! I got more and more excited to see what I had caught, until I realized it was a tiny Chihuahua. The little guy may not have been the target species, but hey—I actually caught something! We set him free and re-set the trap, in hopes of catching something slightly more wild, and headed back to camp. The next day we went back out, only to find that same little guy back in a trap! This time we took him back to camp with us and named him, fittingly, Lucky.
Field trips are not only a wonderful time to get hands-on experience in the field, but they are also a time to bond with your classmates and professors. I highly recommend that you attend whatever field trips come your way!