Ever wondered why people go into wildlife? I mean, we’re expected to have low salaries. Why are we spending so much money to get a degree where we’ll go out to observe animals for a living or manage them? Can’t we do that as an everyday person with pets?
I can’t answer this question for everyone, but I’ll give it a shot. We are fascinated by the world around us. We love it and want to understand it, along with our role in it. It’s that simple.
There’s so much to be learned as a student in wildlife, even though we’ve been living alongside the concepts we’re learning about all our lives. Every time I walk into my Introduction to Environmental Conservation class, I walk out and gain an entirely new viewpoint. Recycling has taken on a whole new meaning when put into the dimensions of its actual effects. All my bathroom products give me a deep sense of suspicion because there are simply so many different chemicals and plastics being used with them. I have developed a rational hatred for ginkgo trees while on Purdue’s campus; not only do they stink, they’re also not even native. I worry about the squirrel population because that many squirrels in 10 yards of grass cannot be healthy. I’m all for wooden buildings, so long as it’s sustainable, thanks to carbon sequestration. Did you know wood is made up of 50 percent carbon? So when it’s built into buildings, it’s not actually harming the environment because it’s still holding in all that carbon dioxide that would have gone into the atmosphere had the tree been burned or decomposed. All this to say, I just pay a lot more attention to the environment around me.
Those are just some of the concepts we’ve learned so far, and it’s a blast. On top of this, I feel like we’re actually doing something good for humanity. Not many people want to do the dirty work or have months of research credited with one line in a scientific paper. However, we get to better see how it’s all interconnected. The world is more entwined than anyone knows. If everyone took just one day to be a wildlife student, it would be an incredible transformation in the world, even if each person only took one aspect away from the lesson learned.
Morgan Sussman, Freshman
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University