Professor Jack May was a man of his word, with a strong desire to connect people with education. “He really saw education as the answer—everybody deserves it,” says Marianne Causey, one of the former Warnell professor’s eight children. “And, they deserve equal and good education. And I appreciate that.”
William Bartram was struck by the beauty of the trees he found along the banks of Georgia’s Altamaha River in 1773.
The trees, Bartram noted, had flowers that “are very large, expand themselves perfectly, are of a snow-white colour, and ornamented with a crown or tassel of gold coloured refulgent staminae in their centre.” Bartram had encountered the same trees when he and his father, John Bartram, went on their first expedition in 1765 to catalog the flora and fauna of the southeastern area of the North American colonies at the request of King George III.
The threads connecting Audrey Ballou’s life seemed disjointed at first: A love of the outdoors, the drive of a student athlete, an undergraduate degree in parks and recreation.
But over time, experiences began to weave together and a pattern emerged. A natural resources law class sparked an interest in legal studies, but the tuition was a heavy burden to carry. Then Ballou saw a flier for the National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The fish writhed and splashed inside the plastic bucket as Kevin Thomas hustled down the pathway. He ducked off to the side, steadied his load over the water’s edge, and emptied its contents into the chilly waters of Smith Creek.
The rainbow trout shimmied into the deep and disappeared. Although, perhaps, not for long—several anglers out enjoying the crisp, sunny day at Unicoi State Park eyed Thomas and his truck, fresh from a Georgia Department of Natural Resources hatchery, with anticipation.
There are three words that can create anxiety in the mind of any wildlife professional or researcher: trail camera survey.
After decades of managing and consulting for private hunting lands, Rans Thomas (BSFR ’99) knew this feeling all too well. Trail camera surveys, a method for understanding wildlife populations and creating management plans, are tedious and inefficient largely due to the manual process of viewing thousands of images, keeping track of results in spreadsheets or handwritten notes and processing data.
On its surface, the timber industry can seem simple: Trees grow, they’re harvested, they’re replanted.
But if you dig a little deeper, you uncover layers of intricacies. There are state and federal policies, international influences, asset distributions, planning, data collection and more. It’s these details that inspire Yenie Tran (BBA ’02, PHD ’15), allowing her to fully embrace the field and her role as senior economic analyst at Resource Management Service, a timberland investment management organization based in Birmingham, Alabama.
As a high school student, Brian Simmons (BSFR ’93) landed a summer job at a local fish farm.
It began as a way to earn some cash, but then Simmons began to meet other professionals—including Jay Shelton, who at the time was working for UGA Extension’s Griffin office. He kept with the job through his early years at Middle Georgia College, and began working there full-time after graduating from Warnell.
As a graduate student, Ashley Turner (MS ’05) cut her teeth in game management by studying red-tailed hawks inhabiting the historic quail hunting grounds of the Jones Center at Ichauway. Her first job after graduating was a good fit, managing for game populations at the sprawling W.C. Bradley Farms outside Columbus, Georgia.
If part of being successful is asking the right questions, then Shelda Owens got off to an early start.
In middle school, inspired by a television show that featured daring mountain rescues, she wrote a letter to the U.S. Forest Service to learn more about working in forestry. The Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, native knew she liked being outside and was curious what a career in forestry might look like.
It’s been 40 years since Rex Benham (BSFR ’82) traded the rolling hills of Georgia with the open skies of East Texas, but he feels he got a good deal in the end.