They say that a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at work. When I learned that you could pursue an education in fisheries, I just knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life. I grew up outdoors and never said no to an opportunity to be on the water. So when I got the opportunity to work in the field, I knew I was hooked.
It was the summer after my freshman year at UGA. I packed up my dorm room and left for Darien, GA. You’ve never heard of Darien? I’m not surprised. The “downtown” consists of one main street, and a Bi-Lo. I moved into a house with three guys I didn’t know. It sounds like the beginning of a Craigslist nightmare. What I didn’t know when I left was that the summer would be a lot more than days of lounging in the sun.
I was hired on as a research technician for Dr. Peterson’s graduate students. I was working with Atlantic and Shortnose sturgeon. These fish were new to me. Who knew these prehistoric beasts were lurking all over the state? We spent every day on the water, deploying nets trying to avoid snags in the murky water that would lead to long hours repairing nets the South Georgia sun. Over the course of the summer we caught hundreds of sturgeon, some the size of my finger and some larger than me. We would also regularly catch various sharks, rays, and the occasional gator (not the kind that wear jean shorts). Every day was a surprise and with that, I was always in for learning something new.
I wouldn’t trade that summer for anything. As I sit here now and think about all the opportunities I’ve had throughout my years at Warnell, I wonder how different they might have been without that summer. Team building happens quickly when you’re on a boat with strangers for 40 hours a week, and thinking on your feet is an understatement when you’re wrestling a 200-pound shark into a little boat. At the time it just seemed like a bunch of fun but it turned out to be a whole lot more than that.
So if you’re looking into what Warnell has to offer, there are many more opportunities like mine. There are an unlimited amount of friends to be made and experiences to he had. You can learn all you want to in class but there is something to be said about being in the field that leads to memories you’ll never forget.