Growing up in a town with less than 200 people, it’s easy to see why Warnell was the place I eventually ended up: it is the closest thing in Athens to the size of my hometown. After all, the entire population would fit in a few classrooms. If you go to the next town over from my hometown, it has a population of 852 and declining. This town could also fit within the four buildings that make up Warnell, so for me to call Warnell my home after a year and a half is actually true, at least halfway. The other half that makes Warnell different from my hometown is what I will spend the remainder of this blog on.
From the time I could walk, I was surrounded by natural resources, hunting, and a conservation mentality. I was conducting control burns, putting up wood duck boxes, and planting many acres of food plots before I stepped foot into these halls. I knew several of the professors at Warnell when I was in high school, and I have worked hand-in-hand with Warnell graduates since the time I was 14. But through all of this exposure to the Warnell community, I was never fully aware of the ever-present divisions within the student body until I began classes. These divisions stem from political or ideological differences, conservation or preservation mentalities, urban or rural backgrounds, and even game or non-game interests. This is what makes Warnell different from my hometown. In my hometown the vast majority of people have the same background, which leads to the same political, ideological, and moral values to be shared throughout the community. This is where Warnell differs, we are one big family, even though this is not the case, and I personally have never experience that.
My granddad once told me, “It takes all kinds to make this world go ‘round.” I never understood that until I got to Warnell. Some of us are focused on game animals such as white-tailed deer (myself included), wild turkeys, bobwhite quail, or even game fish, while some are worried about herpetofauna and endangered species, while some worry about recreation demographics, resource utilization, or even soil and water. But this is the beauty in Warnell, we don’t always agree on everything, we don’t all see the world the same way, and we probably never will. But we are all each other’s Yin and Yang. Warnell has two sides, the side everyone sees: the Hook, Hunt, and Harvest side. But when you actually walk through the halls I see the next generation of scientists that will help influence decisions on non-game issue, DNR management practices, non-profit advancements, and even a few lucky ones that will get to travel the world saving this planet that we all rely on. Don’t get me wrong… I am in the Hook, Hunt, and Harvest crowd, and I probably always will be, but Warnell has given me a mutual respect for everyone’s ideas. And I guess that’s why… there is always a Yin to your Yang.