Thursday, October 21, 2004


It's been kind of a busy week. I had a midterm in Sociology, a quiz in math, Appalachian Heritage Day, and a trip to WVU on Tuesday.

I tried to be good and went to bed the night before at 9:30 PM, but due to my extreme night-owlness, was unable to actually fall asleep until about 1 AM. I had to get up at 6 AM, so you can imagine what a zombie I was all day.

Angie went up with me, and I got to take a look at the college I'll be attending. I met with Dr. McNeel, the director of the Division of Forestry, as well as the heads of the two departments I have been looking at, Forest Resources Management and Wildlife and Fisheries Resources. I sat in on one of Dr. McNeel's classes, in which he had a guest speaker who is a highly successful Forestry consultant.

I've come to realize that while I really like the fact that there are many opportunities available to those with Forestry degrees (as well as pretty good salaries), that program is not a good fit. I'd been told by Dr. McNeel that he was being pushed to recruit more women into the FRM program and the demographic of the FRM students in his class was interesting; there were only three women, excluding myself, and there was something about the guys in the class that made me feel like I would be in the wrong place.

The Forestry consultant talked about his business and what he does; essentially he gets contracts and travels around to the various forest plots. He had some cool electronic gadgetry, but he uses them for things like calculating how many trees are in an area, the best way to improve growth in various species, and often enough he uses this knowledge so that the landowner can cut the trees down for money.

I'm fine with tree maintenance and cutting trees down because it's best for the surrounding ecosystem, but I would really find it difficult to make my living off the killing and sale of timber. I do recognize that wood is probably the most important natural, renewable resource, and as long as it's done responsibly, I have few issues with it. I simply do not personally wish to be directly involved in that industry, if I can help it. For one, my heart has always been in ecology, conservation, and research. The FRM degree is a management degree, so while I'd been envisioning the majority of my days outside working in the field, there's a decent enough chance that I could find myself stuck behind a desk instead.

I'd like to be in management of forests, sure, but not to the ends at which I believe most of the FRM graduates turn. Yeah, I could make more money and have easier job placement with a FRM degree, but I've learned that I need to do a job that balances out financial comfort with personal and spiritual satisfaction. So I figure that as long as I make at least twice what I make now, starting in a Wildlife career, I should be fine. I expect that, in these particular fields, it would likely take me a few years or more to get to the level of comfort that I desire, anyway. I don't need to be rich, but I do want to be comfortable.

I'm a little terrified at making a decision. I'm so afraid that I'm going to change my mind and find myself doing something I find incredibly tedious or whatever, and regret my decision. But then I remind myself that I do love these things, and as I can't really think of anything else besides Sociology that I'd like to study, I may as well go for it.

For one, the Wildlife program is more science-intensive than Forest Resources Management. I'm most likely going to take the science option, as opposed to the management option, because this will better prepare me for my Master's. I'm not positive I'll go for a Master's, but I am very interested in research and was told that I would need such a degree to pursue it. In any case, I can fill up my restricted electives with Forestry classes, thereby sort of balancing out my knowledge and making me a more desirable candidate for hiring in the future. If I find I have the financial support via scholarships, I will take a minor in FRM and work as little as possible.

I'd write more, but Angie's waiting for me to go walk with her. We have a Red Priest concert at 7:30 tonight at school, but I'll try to post again soon.

Wildlife & Fisheries Resources Undergraduate Major

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