Having spent most of my life in a small town in the mountains of North Georgia, by the time my senior year of high school rolled around, I couldn’t have been more ready to leave and see what life outside of Toccoa could be like. I eagerly looked to the University of Georgia, particularly to the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, to fulfill my need for new experiences and adventures. What I received was beyond even my wildest dreams.
If I could talk to my high school self and tell her that within four years she’d have done countless outreach events with snakes, been a part of a champion Warnell quiz bowl team, attended the annual conference of the Wildlife Society in Pittsburgh, made some great friends with the same interests, and traveled halfway around the world to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, I don’t think she would believe me.
The truth is, Warnell is a pretty unbelievable place. I don’t know of any other school that offers everything Warnell has to offer. We have award-winning professors who truly care about the students’ success, we have hands-on coursework that is certified by The Wildlife Society and the Society of American Foresters, we have a student lounge, we have our own writing instructor, we have free printing, we have 11 student organizations, we have endless opportunities for new experiences, and perhaps most importantly, we have a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging stems not only from the fact that you will have classes with the same people over and over again, but also from the experiences you share with your peers. You’d be surprised how much you’ll bond with someone while you’re wading through a waist-deep swamp in the middle of the night with a net and a bucket looking for frogs.
If your Warnell career is anything like mine, the experiences you’ll have and the friendships you’ll make will stay with you forever. They may even give you a better understanding, not only of the world around you, but also of yourself, like they did for me. I’m no longer the sheltered girl from a small town that I was when I first arrived at the University of Georgia four years ago, and I have Warnell to thank for that.
Perhaps the reason that Warnell is such an unbelievable place is because it isn’t a place at all. It’s a culture. It’s a feeling. And once you experience that feeling, you’ll never be the same.