In July of 2013, I was able to experience something that few people rarely get the chance to do. I traveled to Chipley, Florida to visit a place called Seacrest Wolf Preserve where I got to meet and play with wolves.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve is a non-profit organization that works to help educate the public about the importance of wolves in ecosystems. They organize group and private hands on experiences with the canids as a way to foster a respect and understanding of just how these animals help the natural world. The Preserve houses several ambassador wolves that serve as educators for their species. Seacrest is also giving many of their animals a second chance, as most of the wolves were mistreated in captivity or injured and cannot be released into the wild. As most people never come into contact with a wolf in their lifetime, these ambassador wolves help to dispel some of the common misconceptions about the rest of their species.
I had the amazing opportunity to meet these animals up-close and personal during a private tour. Being ambassadors, the wolves were used to human presence and were quite excited to have new company. I spent a few hours getting to know the different wolves and learning all about how they affect the natural environment. This experience was not only my first encounter with real wolves, but was also special for a completely different reason.
Around the time of visiting Seacrest Wolf Preserve, I was wrestling with the decision of whether I wanted to become a Warnell major or not. It was the beginning of my sophomore year and I had just learned about the wildlife program here at Warnell. Everything about the major seemed to match up with my interests, but I was yet not sure if it was the right career path for me. However, after visiting Seacrest, I knew exactly what my decision would be. After seeing the wolves in person and watching how Seacrest ran their educational tours, I knew that I wanted to do something similar in the future.
If not for these ambassador wolves at Seacrest Wolf Preserve, I might still be searching for what I want to do with my career. Now that I’m in Warnell, I can’t imagine being in any other school. I will always look back at this experience and think of it fondly, as it has had a huge influence on my life. It just goes to show that inspiration can truly come from anywhere.