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No “Ragrets”- Blake Sherry

This year I am a senior. I plan on graduating in May of 2017 and reaching the end of my undergraduate career. Because of this, I have been reflecting a bit on my past three and a half years at the University of Georgia. I originally came to school doing what my parents wanted me to major in, finance (pronounced fah-nance), instead of what I wanted to do, forestry. I made the switch at the start of my freshman year and have no regrets. And that is what I have been thinking about, how I do not have regrets. I know a lot of people graduate with their undergraduate degree and say the wish they changed something they did so they would not be in the spot where they are now. I am fortunate and lucky to not be in one of those spots, and I think Warnell has helped put me in the place I am in today.

First and foremost, they offered me a degree worth getting. The BSFR in Forestry from Warnell encompasses forestry as whole and allows you to mold it into what you want it to be. With a comprehensive list of required courses, supplemented by a longer list of electives, you can take your degree in the direction you want. The professors that have taught me are some of the best in the world. I have learned everything from microfibril angles in the cell wall of the lumen of a tree to calculating discounted cash flows for timberland investment and how to code in programs like R in order to create growth and yield models. Few other degrees can offer such a breadth of classes.

I made friendships in Warnell that will most likely last a lifetime. Your classmates will be your future business associates, co-workers, possibly bosses. They say Warnell is like a family, and it can be, for better or worse. At the end of the day, I rather take two years of classes with the same group of twenty people than sit in a lecture hall next to a stranger everyday for two years.

Warnell gave me opportunities at school that many other colleges cannot offer. I have done outreach, been a club officer a few times, met with congressmen, gone to six states, and done countless other things because they made the opportunity available and I showed up. All you really have to do is show up in Warnell and you can be almost anything you want. Want to be the SGA Senator? Put your name on the ballot and win uncontested. Want to go to a conference? Split wood for five hours and go for free. The only person limiting you in Warnell is yourself.

And lastly, most importantly, Warnell gave me opportunities after school. I have accepted a position at the company I interned with when I graduate. Without Warnell, I would not have had that chance. So, I do not have any regrets worth considering from my college career. Is Warnell perfect? No, not at all. But I would be hard pressed to find a better place to get a degree.

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Working with Westervelt- James Carr

My name is James Carr and I am currently in my senior year as a Forestry major at Warnell. This past summer I had the opportunity to work with The Westervelt Company out of their Atlantic Region office in Statesboro, Georgia. The Westervelt Company was founded in 1884 as The Prairie States Paper Corporation, producing grocery bagsoffice, paper, and paperboard packaging products. Today, Westervelt is a land resource organization that owns and manages roughly 500,000 acres of timberland and natural resources.

Approaching the end of the 2016 Fall semester, I learned about many companies and agencies that came to speak at Forestry Club meetings. After interviewing with Westervelt and receiving an offer for a summer position with them, I almost immediately decided to commit to them as a summer intern. Going into my internship that summer, I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience in the areas of wood flow and silviculture. From the start of this summer until the day I left the internship, I was able to achieve these goals and much more.

On my first day of work, I was trained on how to set up timber sales. The following two weeks was spent planning and performing timber cruises. Initially, I was told to set up cruise lines and plots by hand using techniques I learned in one of my first classes at Warnell. My summer Maymester course provided me with a good backbone of field experience for thimg_0367ese cruises. I had opportunities to travel around Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, gaining experience in a variety of silvicultural and harvesting operations. Through many of these experiences, I was able to develop key skills in software programs that are frequently used in the forestry industry.

My main contribution to the company consisted of an infrastructure analysis of all roads, stream crossings, and gates on nearly 9,000 acres of new land acquisitions. One of the major objectives of this project was to update the company’s database and navigation system in ArcGIS. Using the collected data, I was able to perform a cost analysis for all repairs, replacements, or maintenance needs. I then developed a priority system used to organize these costs on a specific timeline. The data I collected and the methods of classification will continue to be utilized by the company in the future.  img_0662

I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with The Westervelt Company this summer. I was able to develop a ton of skills that will benefit me as a forester in the future. None of this would have been possible without the preparation and encouragement provided by my school. I am thankful for the skills I have developed and knowledge I have gained from the great people I have met through Warnell.



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A Bold Earth Summer -Sarah Weber

This past summer I did an internship with a company called Bold Earth Teen Adventures as an adventure travel guide. Working for Bold Earth was a dream come true for me. I want to share a little about the company, why I chose them for my internship, my main goals, my daily tasks, how I contributed to the work environment, and how my Warnell courses contributed to the success of my internship.


Bold Earth is an adventure travel summer camp for teenagers filled with exploration, learning, and discovery. The company was founded in 1976 by Abbott Wallis as an adventure travel camp and was originally called America’s Adventures, though was changed to Bold Earth Teen Adventures in 2009. Since 1976, Bold Earth has focused on leadership and teamwork in a supportive environment. Bold Earth is accredited by the American Camp Association and is the acknowledged leader in teen adventure travel. They have had 16,000+ teenagers from 50 US states and more than 55 countries go on their trips, which are offered both domestically and internationally on six continents. Bold Earth requires each applicant to do a five minute camper telephone interview, a five minute parent interview, and submit two adult references in order to participate on one of their trips. Trip sizes are small ranging from 10 to 15 students with 2 to 3 leaders with itineraries geared towards maximizing adventure, service, challenge, and fun.

img_1798I chose to do my internship with Bold Earth Teen Adventures because I wanted to gain some more experience doing what I am passionate about within the adventure travel industry. I love working with kids, exploring new places, experiencing new cultures, and doing all sorts of adventure activities. Bold Earth incorporated all the things that I love and value out of life and a career, and allowed me to gain firsthand experience as a trip leader. As amazing as this position was, the application process was incredibly competitive, resulting in what they believe to be the most professional, safe, and experienced leaders in the industry. Bold Earth conducts an in-depth interview, checks references and does an extensive background check of all potential trip leaders. Organizational skills, sense of humor, and an ability to teach teenagers about leadership and adventure travel, are thimg_2037e qualities they value most. They require applicants to be 21 years or older, a college graduate or in the process of completing a degree, have proven successful leadership experience with youth, a Wilderness First Responder and adult CPR certification, American citizenship, no more than four points on their driving record in the past 3 years, and high energy, good judgement and decision making skills. In addition to the basic requirements, applicants must submit a trip leader application with a resume, cover letter, and three professional references. Bold Earth hires trip leaders on a rolling basis, so they do not have an application deadline, but the sooner trip leaders apply, the better their chances are of being hired. I would also suggest potential applicants to gain some good experience working with kids and leading trips before applying.

The main goals of the internship were to oversee group safety at all times, teach teenagers to take initiative in learning skills, teach minimum impact techniques and navigation skills, facilitate positive group dynaimg_1849mics, cultural awareness, leadership, self-reliance, and self-confidence and provide a fun, safe, educational, and memorable experience for teens. These goals were successfully achieved by putting in hard work, determination, and passion into every day. My daily tasks included waking-up campers, giving morning and evening briefings, writing daily blog posts, taking pictures for blog, overseeing all daily activities, giving responsibilities to the leader of the day, coordinating activities with local guide, filing and recording all receipts, and filling out daily paperwork.

I contributed to the work environment in various ways, one of which, is by maintaining a img_1806positive attitude at all times. Despite all the high points and fun we had on our trips, there were also inevitable low points that were sometimes hard to overcome. Nevertheless, my co leader and I worked hard to stay positive and always look on the bright side of things. In addition to supplying a positive attitude, I was also a major source of encouragement for my campers. Our trip consisted of a lot of fun, yet sometimes strenuous activity where some campers struggled more than others, such as the biking portion. Therefore, it was important to give our campers the proper support and encouragement they needed to help them overcome these obstacles. I also got to teach our campers about Italy’s culture, language, and history. I carried an Italian language book around at all times to teach the campers new words and phrases as well as an Italian history and culture book to keep campers informed about the historical sites and monuments we visited. Another important contribution to the work environment was facilitating fun games to play with the campers. The games kept the group active, engaged, and allowed the campers to have fun, be silly, and bond. Lastly, being proactive in getting paperwork done, receipts filed, and blogs written were major work contributions that were critical to the success of our trip.

My Warnell courses served me incredibly well during my internship with Bold Earth. For example, my spatial analysis course taught me a lot about map reading, which was really helpful in using a map to navigate new places. In addition, my public speaking course prepared me for making daily announcements and leading briefings with my group, while img_2036my environmental interpretation course supplied me with the skills I needed to teach my campers about the history, culture, and monuments of the places we visited. Furthermore, my time as a Warnell Ambassador has allowed me to develop strong communication and leadership skills, which was incredibly helpful in talking to parents, leading activities, and getting to know my campers. Lastly, my travel and tourism course taught me a lot about how to travel sustainably and how to be an open-minded traveler, which is important when traveling to new places and immersing into a new culture. I hope this blogs helps students get a better idea of the amazing opportunities there are out there and suggests ways in which they can be better prepared for landing their dream job one day.

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There’s Always Something Going On – Michael Buchanon

My name is Michael Buchanon and I’m a Forestry major at Warnell. What I love about Warnell, is that there’s always something to do outside of classwork. Of the many clubs housed In Warnell, I’m a member and an officer of two of them: The Forestry Club and our National Wild Turkey Federation chapter.

img_2764Forestry Club is something I’d recommend to all forestry majors, and anyone with an interest in the forestry side of things. Almost all of Forestry Club’s meetings consist of meeting together as friends, enjoying a meal, and listening to future employers present to us what their organization is all about. I honestly can’t say I know many majors that regularly have employers come to the students. Forestry Club also attends the Society of American Forester’s conference (SAF), and the regional SAF conference every year. This is a great chance to learn about ongoing research or network with those with more experience than us. The main driving force to how we can afford to do all this, is firewood sales. Whenever possible, we have club members come out to our work area at Whitehall Forest to split and stack wood. While splitting wood is hard work, it’s fun to get outside and work with friends, all sharing the same goal of bettering our club and providing opportunities for students.

The National Wild Turkey Federation is a non-profit organization founded on the goal of increasing wild turkey habitat and getting more people outside to hunt. Our chapter is currently working with the Wildlife Society here at UGA and the Department of Natural Resources, in starting a mentored hunt opportunity for Warnell students that have never img_0015-1hunted, but want to see what it’s like after learning about how important it is to game management. We also have the opportunity to guide youth dove hunts, or assist disabled veterans and others hunters who now need assistance getting outside and hunting. We host a fundraising banquet in the spring semester, with the goal of raising money for the organization as a whole.

These are just the two clubs I’m heavily involved with. There’s something for everyone at Warnell, and each club keeps their members heavily involved with events. Even though we may not all be members of the same club, each club also offers support for one another. Like how I may not be a member of the American Fisheries Society, I certainly can’t wait to attend the catfish fry on October 21st.

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“You did WHAT this summer?” – Ellen Brady-McGaughey

My name is Ellen Brady-McGaughey and I am a senior Wildlife Sciences major. This past summer I was given an opportunity that truly changed my life. When I began my search for a summer internship, I was looking for anything that seemed interesting to me, from wildlife rehabilitation to field work. I stumbled upon a posting for an animal care internship working with chimpanzees in Louisiana and while my only prior experience was working with dogs, I submitted my application materials and hoped for the best.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to interview for the position, and ecstatic when I was offered a position as a husbandry intern for 9 weeks over the summer. I eagerly accepted the position and waited for this new adventure to begin.


Fun fact: Chimps throw poop sometimes. Sometimes they miss, and sometimes they don’t. This day was particularly memorable because Kate and I had dodged the first throw and celebrated our cleanliness, only to get hit multiple times after that. While we stunk, we still managed to have fun and laugh about our misfortune. 

Chimp Haven is located in northwest Louisiana, outside of Shreveport. It is home to over 200 chimpanzees, most of whom have been retired from biomedical research. If there is one thing that is readily apparent to anyone that visits Chimp Haven, it is the true love and dedication that the staff has for the chimps that call Chimp Haven home. I was fortunate enough to get to work alongside an amazing care staff team who taught me everything that they could in the short time I was there. They took time out of their day to introduce me to chimps, take me along for training sessions, and generally make sure that I was getting the most out of my internship.

This internship gave me an opportunity to gain experience in a field that I love and hope to pursue a career in following my graduation in May. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to work with these amazing chimps and the people who care for them. This experience would not have been possible without the financial support of the William Tyler Ray Scholarship that I received through Warnell. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to take an unpaid internship for the summer and would not have had this life changing experience. I am immensely grateful to Warnell donors, alumni, faculty, and staff who helped to make this dream a reality, and especially to Chimp Haven for allowing me to be a part of their team this summer.



One of my favorite things to do was paint with the chimps. You put globs of paint on a canvas, give them a paint brush, and they create a masterpiece like this one. A lot of collaboration usually occurs between the chimps to create one painting. This particular painting was done by a member of Keel’s group.


Summer days in Louisiana are hot, and working outside in the heat makes you sweaty, tired, and if you’re not careful, grump. Lunch breaks gave me an opportunity to cool down, dry off, and get to know everyone. Keeping a positive attitude is easy when you are surrounded by fun supportive people like Sarah.



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Who’s coming this week? – Joe Vaughn

My name is Joe Vaughn and I’m a forestry student at Warnell. The Forestry Club is one of my favorite student clubs and organizations offered at the University of Georgia and one of my favorite questions to ask our Forestry Club President is, “Who’s coming this week?” At our somewhat weekly meetings we are able to engage with potential employers from the forestry sector. This is a great opportunity to learn more about what company or agency positions can be obtained with our degree and interests. So every Monday you can probably hear me asking Blake Sherry, “Hey, Who’s coming this week for Forestry Club?”

This past week I was surprised by his answer. Forestry Club was invited to visit with Select Trees Inc. I wasn’t very familiar with their operation but had heard of them. I knew at the very least they were involved with nursery management. After the 2-hour tour I gained a better understanding and appreciation of the business that Select Trees conducts. Businesses like Select Trees provide their clients with the most appropriate tree that meets the needs of their project. I could tell their staff was passionate about the work they were doing. It was even better to see a Warnell alumnus working and doing well for himself. It’s a common observation I have made during many of our club meetings. I think it is empowering for us as students to see fellow Warnellians contributing to the workforce. I’m thankful Forestry Club is able to have meetings that introduce us to the many professions that can be obtained with our degree. If I could offer one piece of advice for any incoming or current Warnellian it would be to participate in a club or organization. You won’t be disappointed.


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“So, you want to be a Park Ranger?” – Sarah Lynn Bowser

My name is Sarah Lynn Bowser, and I am a junior wildlife sciences major at Warnell. Whenever I am asked about what I study here at UGA, I am always ready for the follow up question of “So, what do you want to do with that? You want to be a park ranger?”

goatiNow, while there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be a forest ranger (it’s a great job, and we definitely need more of them in the world), I do get frustrated that this is the only job people think of when they hear what I study.

The truth is, there are a lot more career options for a student earning their degree with an emphasis on wildlife sciences. The program offered here at Warnell is recognized as one of the premier programs in the country, and by choosing the wildlife area of emphasis students fulfill the educational requirements to become Certified Wildlife Biologists, as stipulated by The Wildlife Society.

This education prepares students to take on many challenging career paths, ranging from Endangered Species biologists to wildlife rehabilitators.

For me personally, I plan to take my degree with me to an international level by volunteering for the Peace Corps. I’ve spoken to recruiters, and I found that having a degree from Warnell will give me automatic qualification for service. I have the 20160421_121923opportunity to serve as a volunteer in environmental education, protected areas management, and even as an agroforestry specialist in countries such as Paraguay, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guyana.

By getting involved with these volunteer opportunities, I would be making more of an impact in smaller communities while also providing them with the education and the means to make better environmental decisions. I am mostly excited to have the opportunity to teach a younger generation and hopefully instill in them the same appreciation for the natural world that I have. My hope is that if children today fall in love with nature and the world around them, then we can be one step closer to protecting it for future generations.

So, all in all, I love when people ask about what I study. I am always excited and proud to talk about it, as I see it as important work. I just wanted people to know the large variety of avenues a degree in Wildlife sciences can really take you!