The Dirt on Warnell – Mary Rueter

I am a fisheries and wildlife major. To say I love animals is an understatement. Guys…I LOVE animals. Did you know bats sneeze? That catfish have spikes? And that a baby platypus is called a puggle? I do. I know how to identify different species of ducks. I know how to tell apart the skulls of twenty different kinds of mice. I know how plant matter moves through the entire digestive tract of a deer.

Animals make me happy. They make my skin tingle when I see them in the wild. They make my heart skip a beat when I hold them in my hands. They’re the reason I came to Warnell and the reason I stay up late trying to memorize scientific names.

I love animals. I completely want a career in wildlife sciences. It makes sense. Right??


You guys…I have found something that makes my heart beat even faster.


I don’t know how it happened. It’s my last semester at Warnell. I have six weeks to go until I graduate and suddenly I have a new passion in life. All of my career training and expertise is in Wildlife and Fisheries. But to graduate, I had to take one, one course in soils sciences and suddenly my love for animals seemed like childhood fantasy. I gotta tell you, when I made my first clay ribbon and felt those sand granules between my fingers, I felt satisfied. I felt happy. But I also felt more frustrated than I have been my entire life.

What am I going to do??? I’m really excited to be graduating from school and I wasn’t intending on jumping right back in and going to graduate school. I had planned on taking on some seasonal positions and working in the field in wildlife for a while just to get some life experience. But now I’m wondering if I should! I’m considering changing my career focus altogether and starting over completely! It’s as if my mom told me I could pick one piece of candy from the candy store. Which one do I choose!!!???

Warnell’s seemingly endless supply of wildlife and fisheries courses has always kept me satisfied that I was going down the right path. I was always so confident that I knew what I wanted and that I knew what I was going to do. But that one class….

I forewarn you now, you who are interested in coming to Warnell. Prepare yourself for this place. You may come in a forestry major and leave a wildlife major. You could come in a fisheries major and then suddenly discover a passion for trees. It happened to me. It could happen to you.


2 comments on “The Dirt on Warnell – Mary Rueter

  1. Some twenty odd years ago I entered UGA, became a wildlife major who swore in high school I’d NEVER work with plants; they were boring. Animals it was! Then I took Dr Merkles dendrology class. Then he gave a lecture on longleaf pine. Then I was hooked. Forestry it was, even on to graduate school with a thesis on longleaf pine. One class, one lecture and my path changed, and I am grateful for it every day. Thanks Warnell!

    Anne ’96

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