Catherine Masingill is a senior majoring in natural resources and environmental conservation. She has a concentration in natural resource law and administration. Her interest in natural resources began in high school. "I was blessed with great science teachers and a family committed to outdoor recreation. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the environmental law and protect the resources I love and enjoy," Catherine said.
Her next step is applying to law school. "I hope to change the world by protecting our natural resources and land areas through law and policymaking and compliance. I want those in my family years from now to be able to enjoy the natural world in the same way or better than I will experience it over my lifetime," she said. Her favorite part of the major is the wide breadth of classes. "As the only social science major in a college dominated by forestry and wildlife, I have the unique opportunity to not only experience classes within those majors but also classes in public policy, political science, business administration, communications, and earth science. I really enjoy the diversity my major offers," she said.
She encourages potential students who are seeking a home away from home to consider Mississippi State. "MSU offers more than just the comfort of home; it offers an education to propel you forward, professional connections to open career doors, and friends that will last a lifetime," she said.
A nationally recognized forestry program, deeply committed faculty and a family–oriented atmosphere helped lure Jeff Roman Clayton IV from his hometown of Theodore, Alabama, to Starkville.
Though once a passionate University of Alabama football fan who envisioned pursuing his higher education in Tuscaloosa, the senior forestry major said an evolving interest in natural resources during high school–"because of my love for the outdoors"–led him to the sister Southeastern Conference university, Mississippi State.
"I toured campus and noticed how close-knit and supportive the community was," he said, in recalling his first visit to Starkville. "It's a large university, but the College of Forest Resources is very interconnected."
Clayton said his initial impressions of MSU have held true throughout the last four years. He gives particular credit to David Evans, the college's Sharp Professor of Forestry who "taught me more than just dendrology; he taught me how to become a professional."
He added, "All the professors here are incredibly helpful and capable. Not only are they knowledgeable about the biology and ecology behind forestry, but they have real–world experience within the industry."
In preparing for a career, the Dean's List Scholar has taken advantage of several leadership opportunities. He has enjoyed being a College of Forest Resources Ambassador because "I love telling young people about the program, and everything that's available to them if they decide to come here. I want to share the opportunities that I had, so they can make an educated life choice."
Also, Clayton's role as president of the nationally ranked MSU Bass Fishing Club "has taught me about leadership, business and marketing" because "we do a lot of our own fundraising and, last year, raised $40,000 to help with the cost of fishing tournaments." Club involvement "has honed my abilities as an angler by giving me the chance to compete against some of the nation's top anglers in the country."
This is important because "my dream job would be working as a professional angler, but I also would thoroughly enjoy working in the timberland industry. I am pursuing both career paths full throttle in preparation for the opportunities that may come my way. I live my life on what my father once told me. He said, 'Work hard, treat people ethically, and leave the rest to God.'"
Ashley Williams is an ambassador in the College of Forest Resources. She is a senior forestry major. Her concentration is wildlife management. Forestry was a natural fit for her since both her father and grandfather were foresters. Ashley plans to earn a master's degree in wildlife biology after she graduates from MSU. "I want to improve how we maintain one of our most important natural resources, wildlife.
While there will be many steps in accomplishing this goal, the one that excites me most is the opportunity to involve others in forest and wildlife conservation and to be a part of this great community. I look forward to being able to contribute to its growth in the coming years and share my passion with others," she said. That sense of community is one of the reasons she loves the College of Forest Resources so much. She also appreciates the opportunity to conduct hands-on work in the field. "I get to go beyond the classroom and learn from the environment itself. There aren't many majors that allow that chance," she said.
A defining moment came during the 2016 summer field program. On the third day, individuals were required to pace into a highly brushy area alone. Ashley was nervous but rose to the challenge. "At the starting point, I wondered how I was going to do this. I realized all I could do was to try my hardest and focus. I made it through the first leg of the course relatively well, but I still wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish doing it three more times. I just convinced myself that I had to keep going no matter what. As I made my way through the seemingly endless briers, I pushed myself a little more each time.
Finally, I finished the course. I can honestly say that I've never been more proud of myself or felt more accomplished. I knew that from that point on, nothing would stand in the way of me and my dreams. I know to most people pacing a brushy course is probably not a big deal; however, for me, pacing the course defined my future. To students considering a forestry degree, MSU not only offers an incredible education filled with endless opportunities. It also provides you with a community that you can be proud to be a part of."
Jackson Guenther is an ambassador in the College of Forest Resources. Jackson is a junior in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. "I chose this major because it offered a pre-veterinary track different from the typical undergraduate degree. I love the outdoors and working with wildlife. This allowed me to study two of my main interests at the same time," Jackson said.
Jackson is currently in the ROTC program at Mississippi State University. He hopes to one day serve as a veterinarian in the U.S. Army. "I look forward to my commission and serving in other countries around the world," Jackson said. His favorite part of the major is that everyone has a common interest in the outdoors. He said the smaller class sizes allow more personal interaction between students and professors.
"If you love the great outdoors, this is the place for you. Get involved in programs outside of the classroom, and to reach out to professors and other students. Making connections and friendships will benefit you greatly throughout your time here," he said.
Thomas Skinner is an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. He is a forestry major. "I chose this major because I have always been interested in the outdoors and animals. I'm a huge hunter and fisherman and spend most of my time outdoors so I thought it would be a good fit for me," he said.
As a sophomore, Thomas looks forward to more classes focused around his major. "I can start to get into the hands-on work and begin to learn about the trees and environment," he said. Thomas loves the time spent outside of the classroom in the woods. A defining moment at MSU came during a preview day for the forestry department in the student union. "I listened to the students and teachers from the department.
That event inspired me to attend MSU and major in forestry," he said. Thomas encourages potential students to consider all options. "Evaluate where each major may lead you. Pick your major based off what you enjoy," he said.
Logan Timmis is an ambassador in the College of Forest Resources. He is a forestry major. He chose forestry because of his inherent love of the outdoors. "There is nothing better than a walk through the woods so why not pursue an education in it?" he said. His concentration is environmental conservation.
"I hope to inspire appreciation in our natural world and all it has to offer," he commented. His favorite part of the major is that each day offers the opportunity to learn something new. A defining moment came at the end of his freshman year.
"I realized the prerequisites were over. I knew my next semesters would include hours in the lab or woods." Logan challenges prospective students to be different. "Make your own path and choose your own future. Maybe it will lead you into the woods like me."
Andrew House is an ambassador in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also a member of the Dean's Council. He is a double major in biochemistry and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture. "I originally wanted to go to vet school and I knew I enjoyed biology and chemistry. Instead, I became involved in research.
After that, I decided to double major with biochemistry and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture," he said. Upon graduation, Andrew plans to attend graduate school. "At this moment the part that excites me the most is that I have no idea where I will attend graduate school. It could be anywhere doing almost anything," he said.
His favorite part of each major is the faculty. "I love being surrounded by professors that care about the students. They have ended up being mentors and playing major parts of my life," he said. Andrew highlights involvement in student organizations, undergraduate research, and making lifelong friends as contributing to a great experience at MSU.
He encourages potential students to follow their hearts. "When people say you can do whatever you want with your life, they aren't kidding. Allow yourself to make new friends, do things outside of your comfort zone, and your ideas will be diversified," he said.
Emma Winterhalter is an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. She is a forestry major. "I chose this major because I hope to make a difference in our environment and the lives of the animals living in it. I want to change the world by helping preserve it," she said. She loves her coursework and looks forward to a career in forestry.
"This major has the potential to open so many doors for me," she said. Emma encourages potential students to study hard and believe in themselves. "Learning to study and realizing I was capable of the challenges ahead really brought it home for me."
"I tell potential students that if you put in the work, it will absolutely give you double back. The program takes such good care of each person individually, and I'm confident in it and what it has equipped me with even after only being in it one year."
Isabella Durham is an ambassador in the College of Forest Resources. She is majoring in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture. She hopes to be a wildlife veterinarian one day. "I hope to travel around the world and improve care in developing countries while learning new ideas myself."
Her favorite part of the major is getting closer to the dream she's had since she was a little girl. "I've always wanted to be a vet. The people I meet, the opportunities I have, and the classes I am taking are all helping me turn this dream into a reality." Isabella sites getting accepted to a study abroad trip in Africa as a defining moment at MSU.
In addition to the study abroad trip and her role as ambassador, Isabella also accepted a research role under the direction of Dr. Christopher Ayers. Isabella says she has found a home in the College of Forest Resources and hopes other students will too.
Price Coleman is an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. He is a major in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. "I chose this major because I wanted a degree where I would always learn something new and be surrounded by people that had the same passion I did for wildlife."
He said he loves the atmosphere in the college. "I find it inspiring that all the teachers not only want you to do well in the classroom, but genuinely want every student to be successful in whatever path we choose," he said.
He encourages potential students to pursue their passion. "When I chose the major, I wasn't thinking about what everyone else wanted me to do. I thought about what I would completely love 40 years from now. Look at as many options you can. It's your future and you can do anything you want, wherever you want, and accomplish more than you can ever imagine."
Chandler Guy is a natural born leader, both in the military and at Mississippi State.
The Summit native joined the U.S. Marine Corps after his freshman year at MSU. He returned to campus after being away two semesters for training and now is a corporal in the reserves as an infantryman squad leader.
His love for the outdoors brought him to MSU where he is a forestry major with a wildlife management concentration. He currently is interning with Weyerhaeuser in Columbus, and the professional experience is giving him an inside look at the forestry industry.
Active in the Society of American Foresters and the Wildlife Society student chapters, he serves on the Dean's Council for the College of Forest Resources, an ambassador for the college and is also president of the Quality Deer Management Association student branch. Additionally, he is a Colonel Kenneth (K.D.) Johnson and Catherine B. Johnson Endowed Scholar.
His grandfather, William Sid Guy, served in the National Guard and as a Mississippi senator. His grandfather's commitment to politics and law helped to pique the MSU student's interest in both subjects – that's why he has elected to remain here an extra year to complete a second major in political science.
"I believe we should constantly strive to be the best version of ourselves. We must remember that doing what's right isn't always popular. Not a single thing in this world is impossible to accomplish when passion is combined with knowledge," he said.
Guy has big plans after graduation. In addition to his military service, he hopes to start his own private land consulting firm, attend law school, and perhaps one day make his way into politics.
"I want to commit my life every day to the betterment of our college, community, state and nation."
Preston Bush is an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. He chose to major in forestry because ultimately, he would like to have an office outside. He hopes to change the world "one tree at a time," he said.
"I hope to continue to manage our natural resources going forward." His favorite part of the major is the fellowship among the members of the forestry community. "Forestry was a must for me because I enjoy the outdoors and want to have a career doing what I love while making a difference."
Matthew Christiansen is a Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture major in the College of Forest Resources. He is spending his summer interning at the Desoto National Forest. "I have enjoyed spending time in the field every day," he said. Matthew credits skills acquired at MSU as helping him excel as an intern.
"I have used skills I learned to identify birds, plants, and other living things in the forest," he said. He chose his major because he has a love of animals and the outdoors. He said the internship gave him a chance to work with many different species.
Matthew is grateful for the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at MSU. "I appreciate the opportunities our department offers to gain real-world experience," he said.
Katie Depperschmidt is a forestry major with a wildlife management concentration. She loves spending time outdoors. This summer, she is an intern at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. She said she knew the internship would give her hands-on experience with wildlife.
"I enjoy learning the methods used to count wood duck populations," she said. "I've also learned to remain calm and quiet while capturing and banding birds," Katie said her time at MSU gave her insight into the morphology and behavior of the wood ducks and other animals on the refuge.
"I chose this major to gain knowledge and skills on how to address environmental problems in our world, especially those pertaining to wildlife. I chose this internship because it was located in a place I knew well. I knew that this internship would provide me with great experience working with wildlife." She thanks Dr. Brian Davis and Dr. Richard Kaminski, who both encouraged her to intern at the refuge.
Taylor Gibson is a wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major. He has a lifelong passion for wildlife. "I hope to be able to assist in preserving our wildlife for future generations."
He anticipates graduating in May 2017. He is spending the summer interning at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. He jumped at the internship because of the chance to work with waterfowl in wetlands.
"Waterfowl and wetlands are the two things that interest me most. I capture and band waterfowl, as well as check nesting hens." He said his time at MSU helped prepare him for the experience. "MSU gave me working knowledge of the science and techniques used in the field."
Colt Mooney is a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major. His concentration is conservation law enforcement. This summer he is interning as an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Scott Rush, at Mississippi State University.
He is working with graduate student Scott Veum on his masters' research project at Noxubee Wildlife Refuge on habitat use and niche partitioning of bats. "The internship gives me hands-on learning experience in the field. It's an opportunity to work with professionals outside of the classroom. I also get to encounter wildlife." Colt said he got the internship because he volunteered for every opportunity to help in the field.
"Scott Veum did not have an assistant for his project so I volunteered to help all summer. He appreciated the help so much; he took it upon himself to apply for a grant to be able to hire me part-time for the summer. This goes to show hard work pays off and people will notice it." He said MSU provided a baseline for the internship. "So far, MSU has given me a basic understanding of working in the field such as safety protocols, ethics in working with animals, goals and reasons for doing research, and questions I need to ask myself while working with wildlife." Colt plans to work in wildlife for the rest of his life. "I hope to protect wildlife in Mississippi."
As a child, Katey Slack spent summers exploring the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Her father worked as a research biologist there. "I analyzed every specimen of every collection." That passion for the study of animals led her to pursue a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major.
Katey hopes to work with threatened and endangered species all over the world one day. "I hope to pursue my doctorate of veterinary medicine. After that, I would like to work in conservation." Her favorite part of the major is connecting with people who have similar aspirations. Her most memorable moment at MSU was assisting with field research for a bat study at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge.
"I gained experience in GPS tracking, data collection, and mapping. This was the first time I was exposed to real field work and it opened my eyes to what the future has in store for me." She encourages future majors to take opportunities offered. "Whether it is working in a lab or doing field work at the wildlife refuge, you should seize the opportunity. This will open doors to so much more and expand your college experience considerably."
Junior Makayla Brister always enjoyed everything nature has to offer, particularly wildlife. That's why majoring in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture was a natural fit. According to Makayla, "There's something majestic about nature that I absolutely love." Her favorite aspect of the major is the chance to attend classes taught outdoors. "Especially when the weather is great!" she adds.
Makayla also plays in the Famous Maroon Band. She enjoys the indescribable experience of stepping onto Scott Field during game day. For Makayla, college is about the experience. "In this major, there are many opportunities that will prepare you for success in your career."
Makayla is a member of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences. She's traveled and networked with the organization. She said the experience will help further her career. She advises potential students to jump outside of their comfort zones. "Just be willing to put yourself out there and seek chances to get involved." Makayla plans to go to vet school when she graduates.
Murry Burgess has always had a love for animals. That's why she chose the Wildlife, Aquaculture, and Fisheries major in the College of Forest Resources at MSU. "I like MSU's wildlife program because it gives me the knowledge and experience I need to be successful in the future," she said. Murry hopes to change the world through conservation. "I want to restore lands and bring animals back from the brink of extinction so that future generations can enjoy the same wildlife that we do today. Saving species keeps the vital ecosystems in balance, which helps save the world," she said.
Her favorite part of the major is the hands-on experience. "All the information and experience is relevant to potential future jobs. The experiences are also fun and exciting," she explained. Her most defining moment at MSU was being accepted as a CFR ambassador. "I am excited to be able to recruit potential students and share the awesomeness of this field.
I love feeling like I am participating in my community and helping to promote and improve the college," she said. She says CFR is a great place to learn and grow, in academics and as a person in general. "The students in the college are always willing to help out. There is always a staff member who has answers and opportunities for you. The classes offered are well-structured and informative. The professors have the tools every student needs to succeed. Definitely consider this college, because the CFR is a great place to be."
Keaton Hamid had never been to a cave until she found an internship that immersed her in the black hills of Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota. "I decided that if I wanted to leave Mississippi and learn more about caves and the animals that live within them, that this would be the internship for me," Keaton said.
She was nervous about being so far from home and doing something way out of her norm, however, the experience has been rewarding. "I have not had one regret so far. I have had the time of my life, met so many great people, learned so much and it has only been a few weeks. I am excited about the rest of the summer and I encourage everyone who has an interest in geology or wildlife to come to the Black Hills and explore this breathtaking place," Keaton said. For the Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture major the experience has been action packed.
"I have been on multiple hikes, climbed a mountain, learned a lot about Native American culture, and have learned a great deal about bats, bison and different plants," she said. Her MSU training has made a big difference on her ability to perform and interact with a wide-range of staff members. "I love this major because there is always something new to learn," she said. Keaton certainly is learning new things in his internship. This photo of her is in the Historic Cave while doing some cave mapping. "It is something that I have never even thought about and all of a sudden, I am actually learning first-hand how to do it and how it all works," she said.
William Griffin is a forestry major and ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. William chose forestry because it gives him flexibility in his future career. He also is excited about the opportunity to work closely with landowners and other professionals in order to achieve the goals set for a given piece of land. A career in forestry will allow him to work in and for our beautiful forests. According to William, "I can't imagine a better use of my professional life."
When asked about his favorite aspect of the major, William didn't hesitate to acknowledge the people in the College of Forest Resources.
"As much as I have enjoyed the classes, field work, and general knowledge gained about the forestry profession, my favorite part is the people," William said. "The faculty and staff are the cream of the crop, and the material is taught in a way that excites, inspires, and truly makes the learning process enjoyable. You'll also develop camaraderie among your classmates that is not easily replaced."
If you are considering the forestry major at Mississippi State, William has some great advice.
"You have to want it. You have to want to learn, and know you will be challenged by it — both mentally and physically. If you come into college and expect everything to be given to you, or everything to be easy, you will be disappointed. That's not how we learn. We learn by being pushed, challenged, and exposed to new things that might not make sense at first. Stick with it and you will be rewarded," William said.
Matthew Ivey, senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major with an option in wildlife veterinary medicine, is from Meridian, Mississippi. He has been an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources since Fall 2014. He says the college is like one big family.
"I could never have guessed that I would pick a school where everyone knows my name and the things I do. Nothing beats being on a first name basis with most of your professors. The friends I've made are incredible as well," he says.
He said he has especially enjoyed the lab field days and notes that going out in the field with your professors and friends leads to some great memories. Ivey chose the major because he wanted to be a zoo vet. Since then, plans have changed and now he is focused on becoming a wildlife biologist. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a master's degree in wildlife biology. His specific interests include working with unmanned aerial vehicles to research wildlife and working with wetland species
In his free time, he enjoys wildlife photography and film. He is also preparing for his first bow season later this year. His favorite part of the university is the student community. "I have made incredible lifelong relationships since being in Starkville. There's nothing like fellowship with your fellow students," he says. Ivey encourages anyone who is considering Mississippi State or the College of Forest Resources to go for it. He describes his choice to do such as "one of the best decisions I've ever made."
Travis Noto, senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major, is from Kenner, Louisiana. This is his first semester as an ambassador for the College of Forest Resources. He likes the family feel and atmosphere of the college and says, "Everyone is working toward a common goal and most probably will be colleagues in the future.
Professors are always willing to help and usually go out of their way to make a connection with the students." Noto chose his major because of his passion for the outdoors and his love of science. "It is the perfect hybrid between hands-on field work and intense science courses. It was an interesting and unique way to pursue my dream of becoming an avian and exotic veterinarian," he says.
Noto said MSU has helped him develop skills to work as part of a team, to put in a hard day's work and to overcome obstacles to present his best work and effort. In his free time, he enjoys wildlife photography, day hikes and herpetology, which is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles. He says his favorite part of the university is the one-on-one attention. "I feel like professors know who I am as a person and student," he says.
When Frederico França and Tamara Amorim went to Las Vegas for the International Conference on Timber Bridges in 2013, they came home with more than just professional development. The two graduate students also got married during the trip, and as Lady Luck would have it, they met a key contact from Mississippi State University who was attending the same conference.
Both natives of Brazil, França and Amorim met on their first day of graduate school at Federal University of Espirito Santo in Jeronimo Monteiro, Brazil, where they were enrolled in a master's degree program.
Their common interest in wood products developed into a friendship, and they began dating. They both applied for an internship in Madison, Wisconsin, at the internationally known USDA Forest Products Laboratory. The students naturally jumped at the opportunity to attend a conference in a new and exciting location. They worked to photograph the conference to help offset costs.
The meeting offered more than most conferences can boast – relevant seminars, a host of wedding chapel vendors and a chance meeting with Dr. Dan Seale, MSU Warren S. Thompson Professor of Wood Science and Technology.
The couple actually met Seale while they were all waiting for shuttle bus transportation. They didn't want to tell him they were on their way to get married, but they saw him again that evening in a casino restaurant and invited him to their table. By that time, they were celebrating their new marriage and weren't so shy about recounting the day's accomplishments. Seale laughed and congratulated them, they said, but upon learning of their work in forest products, he began recruiting the newlyweds to their next step – MSU's doctoral program in forest resources with a focus on sustainable bioproducts. Now, Seale is their major professor, and they have completed their first year in the program.
"It was our lucky day when we found Dr. Seale," França said.
Amorim said they both love being in Mississippi.
"We have a great department, and we are working on a very good project for the USDA to evaluate southern pine lumber," she said.
França explained that their work involves adding value to the lumber produced for structural purposes in the southern U.S. While França is more focused on wood industry engineering, Amorim's interests are focused on economic analysis and marketing for the industry. For more on the project, refer to the sidebar.
Both agreed that the friendliness at MSU has made them feel at home. They've also enjoyed meeting people from all around the world. "As Brazilians, we talk a lot. It's part of our culture to talk, and so I think we make friends easily," Amorim said.
Kayla Webster, sophomore wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major with pre-vet concentration, is from Olive Branch, Mississippi. Her favorite thing about CFR is the community and academics that it represents.
Thus far, her most memorable experience in the college has been the Welcome Back BBQ, because it brings the CFR community together. Webster says she chose this major because of a lifelong passion for wild animals. She's known it was a field she wanted to pursue since age five.
Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue veterinary school and would one day like to work in wildlife rehabilitation at a national park. "Maybe one day I will get the chance to work at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee," she says. Webster comments that MSU has taught her to branch out and that everything she learns connects.
For fun, she likes to draw and paint and play with her dog. Her favorite things about MSU are the campus and how the people make it feel like a big community. "I feel so lucky that MSU has the CFR community and that I get to be a part of it," she says.
Patrick Coccaro is a forestry major with a concentration in wildlife management. His favorite thing about the CFR is the size of the college. It allows everyone an equal opportunity to get involved in the things they want to take part in and gives each student the ability to form close relationships with everyone in the college. Patrick's most memorable moment was spending the summer with classmates in the Summer Field Program and putting in hours of hard work every day to form the lasting bond they now share.
Patrick chose forestry because he likes to spend time outdoors but also because this is a field that is constantly changing and he wants that excitement to be a part of my future career. After graduating from Mississippi State, Patrick hopes to further his education and receive a Master's degree in wildlife management before beginning a career in Texas. A native of Vicksburg, Patrick's favorite thing about MSU is that there are so many ways for students to make impacts on just about anything they want, whether it be large or small, through the various student organizations on campus.
For fun, Patrick attends as many MSU sporting events as possible and explores the trails at the refuge.