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Finding My Niche- Lora Haas

When I toured the University of Georgia for the first time, tour guides emphasized the fact that the school provides its students countless opportunities to find their “niche” and develop life-long friendships. This is in spite of the fact that UGA boasts an impressive number of students – 35,000 to be exact! They said that “UGA is a big school with small school feel” and I often heard testimonies from students who felt as though they were members of intimate, close-knit community. I was skeptical about this, but ultimately found it to be true when I entered the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. I have made some of my best friends at Warnell and I am so grateful to the school for giving me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. In many ways, Warnell is similar to high school, where you see many of the same students every day. The difference lies in who those students are and the subject matter at hand. The students who attend Warnell, also known as “Warnellians”, are passionate about natural resources.

lora (“Sapelo Fight Club”)

Being in the presence of like-minded (with respect to natural resources at least – we’re still unique individuals!), determined young professionals is inspiring and encourages me to do my best work. The school of forestry and natural resources stresses the importance of experiential learning activities, such as outdoor labs or weekend-long field trips. These experiences foster key skills, such as teamwork and communication – once you learn to work with someone in the field, it’s very easy to become friends. One of the first field trips I attended as a student in Warnell was in my Vertebrate and Natural History class. We travelled to Sapelo Island where the class got to partake in so many fun, wildlife-centered activities (mist-netting for songbirds and bats, trapping for small rodents, herping, etc.). The friendships that I made on this trip have lasted for over a year, and I expect them to continue to last for many years to come. Although I don’t have much time left at Warnell, I know that the school will continue to do the same for its future students – I have already started to notice blossoming friendships in the newest cohort of students who have entered the professional program. Warnell, thank you for encapsulating what those tour guides meant when they said “UGA is a big school with small school feel”.

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