Lake Wylie, SC native, Abby Florez, is a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major. The fourth-generation MSU student feels at home in Starkville, considering cowbells have long been a family tradition. The senior loves the outdoors and is very involved in The Wildlife Society, serving as President and past President Elect.
Abby notes the significance of the open-door policy in the College of Forest Resources, stating, "My favorite thing about the College of Forest Resources is the open door policy, which means I am able to get any questions I have answered, mentor advice, and become closer with my professors. The open door policy even allows me to get close to professors I haven't even had yet. It makes the college feel smaller when you start remembering faces and names."
Abby has plans to one day join the Peace Corps as an agricultural or environmental volunteer, complete her master's in wildlife, spend four years in the military and then begin a career in one of the federal agencies. In 2019 she served as a Student Conservation Association intern with the National Park Service working on a remote island in Georgia; in the summer of 2020, Abby was a Student Biological Technician as a pathways student for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Adam Lindsey, Purvis, MS native, is a forestry major with a concentration in forest management and a minor in business administration. With an excitement for helping people find their path, the senior was inspired to become a CFR ambassador. Adam not only enjoys forestry for its natural resource management factor, he also recognizes and appreciates the business aspect of it. One day, he hopes to work in procurement forestry and possibly pursue a masters of business administration. He also credits a recent internship with Hood Industries out of Hattiesburg, MS for helping guide his career plans.
"It was a great experience being able to see the way procurement foresters work, and the experience was useful for deciding what I want to do after graduation," he said.
As both a single father and college student, Adam Wade stands as living proof that a quality education can be attained by anyone. Adam says the personable attitude and willingness of CFR professors to support their students has "helped tremendously" in pursuing his educational goals and dreams. Adam is a forestry graduate student from Scooba, Mississippi.
Itawamba Community College soccer star, Allie Barnett, is a natural resource and environmental conservation major. The Iuka, MS native plans to graduate in the fall of 2021, and she is a first-time ambassador for the CFR. She is also a member of the forestry club, wildlife society and the MSU club soccer team. Aside from the beautiful campus and the sense of community MSU offers, Allie appreciates the staff and students within the CFR. She notes, "My favorite things about the College of Forest Resources are the instructors and my peers. Everyone is so helpful and want you to succeed, giving it a homey feeling!"
After graduation, she plans to move west and work for a private environmental company, using her experience from an internship through the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge.
Allison Purdue is a conservation education graduate student from Marietta, Georgia. Allison loves the passion that everyone in CFR has about their field of study. Allison recounts how the CFR family welcomed her during her first year and made her feel right at home.
With an undergraduate degree in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture and a graduate degree in conservation education, she will be able to live her dream, educating the educating the public, particularly children, on the importance of conservation.
A long way from home, Autumn Carroll, a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a pre-vet concentration, was inspired to become a CFR ambassador. After being encouraged to pursue a WFA major by a previous ambassador, Autumn wanted to help others the way she was helped. The Las Vegas, NV native dreams of running a marine animal rehab, making her major the perfect fit.
"I aspire to work with aquatic and wild animals during my veterinary career, and I wanted to get a head start working with these species. I also wanted to gain research experience," she said.
She also credits the small class sizes and the caring faculty as her favorite part of the CFR. "The class sizes are small, and the professors and counselors look out for you. They encourage us to go above and beyond just going to class so that we can succeed in our future endeavors," she said.
Richton, MS native, Camille Green, is a political science and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a concentration in wildlife agriculture conservation. When she is not training for the Miss Mississippi pageant as Miss Riverbend 2021, she has a passion for the outdoors, helping others as an ambassador and the small, yet nationally recognized MSU College of Forest Resources. Pursuing a career in wildlife was an easy decision, given her background with the field.
She adds, "My father taught me to appreciate God's creation, coupled with shadowing his job in the USDA, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in wildlife or agriculture. I later discovered that there is a hole where conservation and politics meet, so I added political science as a major in order to take what I learn from the College of Forest Resources and bring it to the Capital!" Camille has dreams of moving to Washington D.C after graduation to lobby for conservation and agriculture policy.
For Caroline Crawford, a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a concentration in human-wildlife interaction and a minor in political science, a desire to help others better understand the world around them is just as important as working with wildlife. With hopes of becoming a wildlife biologist or working in environmental policy, Caroline appreciates the experiences and opportunities offered through the CFR.
"The CFR is special because it gives you the unique experience of getting to know your professors and other students in your school/major early on in your college career! There's also plenty of opportunities provided for you to get involved and learn more about what you're interested in," she said.
The sophomore from Tyler, TX is a member of the student chapter of The Wildlife Society, as well as a CFR ambassador. Being an ambassador has given her the opportunity to show incoming students why MSU and the CFR are the best choice, something she's thankful the ambassador on her first tour provided for her.
Junior Cerise Mensah, a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a concentration in conservation biology, has a deep love for wildlife and MSU's College of Forest Resources. "There are many careers I have considered, and none bring me more excitement than the field of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated with all the different species of animals and the habitats they lived in. I developed an interest at a young age with mostly wild animals," she said.
With dreams of becoming a wildlife conservationist after attending graduate school, the ambassador credits the CFR for its quality and opportunities. She mentions, "The College of Forest Resources is unique because it has helped thousands of students obtain skills and education in forestry, wildlife, and environmental science. The MSU program is unique in that it is 1 of only 10 top ranked universities in the Southeast with a concentration in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture. Personally, MSU was my choice for undergraduate studies because of the many opportunities in the field of wildlife that the university offered."
Daniel West is a forestry major with a forest management concentration from Hoover, AL. The family-oriented senior favors the small town atmosphere of Starkville, as well as the friendly and welcoming community. Aside from a love for rocket science, Daniel has a passion for trees and plant sciences; he plans to put his experience from the Forestry Club where he served as the Freshman Representative and Secretary, as well as his anticipated role as the Chairman of Conclave Events, to use as a consultant forester or land manager after graduating.
Eliot Jones, a sophomore from Chattanooga, Tennessee, says that his classes in forestry have taught him important life lessons. "Dendrology was a difficult class, but taking it meant that I not only know how to identify different trees, but also that I know how to take a difficult class and come out better because of it," Jones said. The forestry major with a concentration in forest management has camped across 25 different states and hopes to use the fortitude gained in his classes to ensure the outdoors is a resource that future generations will be able to enjoy, the way he has.
Wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a concentration in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture science and a minor in business economics, Hunter Mentges, is more than just a hop, skip and jump from home. The Trappe, MD native enjoys all things outdoors, including learning more about it.
"I have a passion for the outdoors like many in the CFR but also a desire to learn. By majoring in WFA, I feel like I have the chance to study and learn about animals that no one else has or learn something new about an animal's habits that no one else has seen before. To me, that's very fun and exciting," Hunter said.
Over the summer, Hunter had the opportunity to intern for a graduate student, studying wood duck box productivity—a meaningful experience for him. The College of Forest Resources offers a close-knit family for Hunter.
"For me, the CFR is so special because of the close-knit community one feels here. Although on a big campus with so many faces, the CFR seems to be a small community with many familiar faces and professors that care about your path to success and will go out of their way to make sure you find it," Hunter said.
For Jack Benson, a forestry major with a concentration in wildlife management, the day revolves around the outdoors. Jack says that while he believes the incredible hands-on experience he's gotten from MSU will make him an attractive candidate for employment, the real reason he's here is to pursue his passion for the outdoors in the most effective manner possible. One day, the Nashville, Tennessee native hopes to put his degree towards either private land management and consulting or wetlands management and conservation. Benson says, if he's not in class, he's out in the field with the doves.
Natural resources and conservation work have long been fields predominately shaped by white men. Now, the field is seeing a boost of students from all walks of life, a cause championed by recent MSU graduates, Makayla Brister and Morgan Alexander.
Brister graduated in May 2019, having double majored in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture and Environmental Economics and Management, while Alexander graduated in December 2019 with a degree in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. Both, however, share the common mission of increasing the number of minority populations in natural resource and conservation work as well as in educational programs.
Brister and Alexander both served as student ambassadors for the College of Forest Resources and believed that their identity would resonate with prospective students who might look like them, which in turn would increase enrollment among minority, black students, and female students.
Brister said she grew up liking animals and wildlife but did not know a program existed for that particular interest. In high school, natural resources was only a topic that was lumped into her biology courses.
"Courses regarding natural resources or earth science were not geared towards black students, or any type of minority students. My interest in natural resources wasn't fostered, and if I had been any less of an advocate for my own education, the interest might have died," Brister said.
The common experience of students of color not enrolling in natural resource programs led Brister and Alexander to encourage other students to choose a major within the CFR.
Alexander added, "I remember going to a college fair as an ambassador, and students of color who would normally walk right past our table stopped to talk to us because they saw me there and saw me involved in the College of Forest Resources."
Both have seen how their efforts have increased student diversity in the CFR, and it excites them. If a student feels isolated, it can negatively impact their success, and both ladies feel as if student interactions can make a person feel welcomed or isolated.
One way they are going about continuing this mission as graduate students is by expanding their reach through a social media platform. In June 2020, Brister and Alexander started an Instagram page called Culture and Conservation. This page is "dedicated to having conversations and creating spaces that include minorities/Black people in conservation and ensuring that they feel confident and safe while exploring, enjoying, and protecting nature." Through their work, they are hoping to help students, regardless of identity, have a positive student experience in the CFR and at MSU.
To learn more about these ladies or to follow them on Instagram, visit https://instagram.com/cultureandconservation?igshid=n50ez0265qhv
Makenzie Sanabria, senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major says her success in CFR was due in no small part to the competition among her fellow classmates.
"We all want to be the best in our field, but it's almost a sibling rivalry. We all want to succeed, but we want each other to succeed, too. I've never met anyone who hasn't been willing to help make that happen," Makenzie said.
The Pascagoula, Mississippi native says the community within CFR contributed not only to her educational success but also her personal success, claiming that thanks to her experience at MSU, she's no longer afraid to ask questions or to be outside of her comfort zone.
Matthew Dziamniski of Moncks Corner, SC brought MSU pride home to his family. The first member of his family to go to school out of state, Matthew is a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a concentration in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture science who appreciates all things outdoors and CFR.
"The CFR is special due to its small class sizes and professors that truly go above and beyond in order to help and support their students," Matthew states. "Countless times I have asked professors for help on assignments, and they made time in their busy schedules time and again in order to make sure I understood the material."
With hopes to pursue a career as a wildland fire fighter for the federal government, Matthew had the opportunity to work for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Roy, MT. He also wants to ensure future generations have the chance to fish and hunt, something he has always enjoyed doing.
McKinley Owens, wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major with a pre-veterinarian concentration, feels the beat in her soul. A member of the marching band, concert band, a student brass quintet and French horn choir, the senior from Birmingham, AL is very involved with the band program.
McKinley hopes to be accepted into veterinarian school after graduating. "I love being out in nature and seeing the wildlife, and I hope to one day be able to help wildlife as a veterinarian," she said. McKinley values the inclusive nature of the College of Forest Resources and how professors are open to students.
From the beaches of Pensacola, FL, Molly Graham is a sophomore forestry major with a concentration in forest management. Though she was first intimidated by the large university, she found her home in the College of Forest Resources, where she says the faculty are welcoming and patient; the sense of family and belonging the CFR offers is special to her.
Molly has always loved the outdoors, and pursuing forestry was a given. "My passion for forestry is rooted in my involvement in the National FFA Organization. I competed in the forestry competition for 7 years at both the district and state levels. It was never a secret that I loved being outdoors and, in the woods, but it wasn't until practicing and studying for this competition that it became clear to me that forestry would make the perfect career for my future," she said.
Molly enjoys leading and influencing future generations through being an ambassador, stating, "To me becoming an ambassador means influencing the next generation of the industry. I want be proactive in helping new students feel at home at MSU and be helpful in any way I can."
A forestry major with a concentration in wildlife, Sam Avery, loves to be outside learning about animals and plants. While being in the College of Forest Resources, it has been the experiences that shaped her. From doing hands-on research work to to particpating in the Summer Field Program to enjoying the CFR family around her, Sam says she's eager to dive in more!
Avid hiker, Samuel Williams, is a forestry major with a concentration in forest management and a minor in business. The Brandon, MS native enjoys the amazing faculty and students of the College of Forest Resources. "All of the students and faculty are amazing, and even though we all come from different walks of life, we can bond over our shared interest in the great outdoors," Samuel said.
With a family history in forestry, choosing this route was something he knew he would do. Samuel furthered his experience in the field with an internship his freshman and sophomore years at Stimson Lumber Company in Oregon where he worked in reforestation. He plans to become a forester in the private sector.
Skylar Liner, from Gray, Louisiana, says majoring in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture taught her—among other things—that she could make a career out of doing what she loves and that she would not be alone doing it.
"Every one of the faculty is dedicated to our success. Whether it's coaching us through interviews, encouraging us for leadership roles, or holding our hand through the inevitable growing pains of college, I never once felt like I had to do it alone," Skylar said.
After she graduates, Skylar says she wants to continue her education and put the skills she's picked up at MSU to work in wetland ecology or marine sciences.
Tom Miles moved from a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to get a taste of MSU's renowned wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major. Tom, having held a love for the outdoors since he was a child, said it was his mission in life to turn that love into a career. In doing so, Tom said he has found himself catching five-pound spotted bass while electrofishing for research projects, finding common ground with people of otherwise differing perspectives and focusing a conscious effort on giving back to the CFR community.
Students like Frank "Wyn" McAlpine find their passions drawn to the forests. As a forestry major with a concentration in forest management, Wyn hopes to one day use the skills and community he gained through CFR to start and grow his own timber company. Wyn assures that, when he sets out to do it, there will be no shortage of people there and willing to help.
"My classmates and I have a lot in common and get along really well. The van rides to the summer field program started it, and the constant supporting of each other since has sustained it. I really feel like I've been set apart from the competition simply by having attended Mississippi State," Wyn said.
A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Xandra Sullivan said MSU captured her heart when the sustainable bioproducts major captured her mind. With small class sizes and charitable professors, Xandra was offered the opportunity time and time again to chase her interests to the fullest extent, even to conduct research in direct partnership with CFR's world-renowned sustainable bioproducts faculty.
"MSU has taught me to work hard for what I want, and that those things won't always come easy to you," Xandra said. "My field of study has taught me to be bold, to be unwavering and to jump into what I want with two feet and armed with the knowledge of all I've learned here."