It all began when I was in kindergarten. I would nd myself looking at songbirds, catching bugs, and only ever wanting to read about animals. My interest grew throughout middle and high school as I volunteered as a junior docent at the Norfolk Virginia Zoo, where I educated children and adults about the zoo animals and the environment. I loved working with people to educate them on current environmental problems and how to make better decisions to benefit nature. I even traveled to Costa Rica with my zoo family to volunteer under the organization Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR). I worked for a week on the rehabilitation center, which had marmosets, squirrel monkeys, and even a one-armed sloth. This experience sealed my need to work with animals, whether it be directly or through education about them. With this interest in animals, I assumed my only option was to become a veterinarian, so I came to Virginia Tech for its impressive pre-vet program.
By the middle of my sophomore year, I found myself wanting more. I wanted to learn more about all animals as opposed to the limited scope of agricultural and pet animals, so I started talking to the wonderful people of the College of Natural Resources and Environment. They helped me realize my passion to work with wildlife, especially in the field of conservation and with threatened and endangered species. With my switch to wildlife conservation, I have found myself much more interested and challenged in my coursework.
I am always looking for new experiences and in doing so I have found myself volunteering in Professor Marcella Kelly’s lab, which uses camera trapping to estimate the population size and density of big cat species, volunteering for a graduate student of Professor Bill Hopkins who studies the effect of incubation temperature on the behavioral phenotype of wood ducks, and working a summer job for the Conservation Management Institute doing office and field work in Blacksburg and in several other states. Most excitingly, I am participating in the Leadership Institute, which will allow me to realize my full potential of my interactions in the field of natural resources and to become a leader at every level of every organization I participate in.
I am a member of the Virginia Tech Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and of Xi Sigma Pi, an honor society for forestry and related majors. These two organizations have exposed me to many of the opportunities in the field of natural resources. I currently do not have a set career in mind; however, I am con dent that through my participation in a wide variety of experiences, especially the Leadership Institute, I will soon find something that I am very passionate about.