To celebrate Black History Month, Warnell students and alumni discuss their love of natural resources, how they were drawn to their careers, and their advice for the next generation of Warnell students. Alumnus Clifton Jackson (MS '02) says his love of natural resources thrived during his childhood. Jackson, who works for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said the experiences he has had over his 20-year career have made him more methodical and more appreciative of the natural world.
What drew you to the natural resources field?
Many of my fondest childhood memories are rooted in natural resources. We participated in hunting and fishing as a family. There is storied hunting and fishing heritage for several generations on both sides of my family. I was largely unaware of careers associated with natural resources until I learned about various opportunities while I was in college. The thought of a career in natural resources had a lot of appeal to me and I changed my undergraduate major from nursing to fisheries.
What is your best memory of either Warnell or something from your career?
Great memories at Warnell are really too numerous to distill down to a single best. I met so many great people and made many fond memories. There was exponential growth accompanied with exponential happiness for the duration of my time in Athens. However, the assorted one-on-one developmental talks that I had with my major professor really put life and science in a useful perspective whereby I could understand so many more things and how they fit together. The routine philosophical talks are the more impactful take away from Warnell.
What advice do you have for the new generation of natural resources students?
There have been so many unexpected challenges in my 20-year career in natural resources and I would not expect things to change for the next generation of natural resource professionals. Students should not rely solely on interest to drive opportunity; let opportunity drive your interest and try everything. The ‘side’ opportunities that I exploited as a student contributed greatly to my career as having diverse exposure and experience in other specialties made me a better candidate for various positions throughout my career.
How has your work or education in natural resources impacted you as an individual?
My education and my work in natural resources have made me a more methodical individual. I try to see things in a big picture and how my individual actions can influence an outcome. I feel as though I can make a difference both personally and professionally by doing a good job at our states’ agency.
What do you like most about what you are doing in your career?
I have enjoyed natural resources for practically all of my life and I understand how beneficial these opportunities are to my family’s way of life. I personally enjoy sustaining or creating similar opportunities for others. Moreover, it is the seemingly simple task that I have performed in in various positions in various forms that I have really enjoyed over my 20-year career.