My name is Garret Cooney. I am currently a senior double-majoring in Wildlife and Forestry at Purdue University. The REEU internship has begun this week, and I am excited to begin. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I hope to gain valuable knowledge, experience, and skill as a result. I’ll begin this first blog by introducing myself and why I’m pursuing a career in natural resources at Purdue.
I didn’t know what career I planned on pursuing until just before I graduated from high school. I had no idea that a career in Wildlife or Forestry was possible until I toured Purdue’s campus. I had never heard of either major before this tour, which was meant to introduce students to the Biology majors. I was only redirected to the College of Agriculture to speak with FNR advisors after lamenting that Biology wasn’t what I wanted after all. As soon as the Wildlife major was described to me, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I had always had a passion for animals and plants, as well as the natural systems they were part of. I loved to learn about the natural world growing up and enjoyed spending time outside exploring and searching for herps, inverts, and other fascinating features of nature. I had no idea I could create a career around my passion for the natural world until I came to Purdue, and I was set on majoring in Wildlife from the start. I later added the Forestry major to broaden my knowledge further and to make more opportunities available to myself in the natural resources field.
With my education from Purdue, I hope to first gain experience in a variety of roles in the field, including wildlife and forestry technician, naturalist, and seasonal positions. With these jobs, my goal is to gain a variety of work experiences, preferably with many different taxa and in different types of habitats. I’d also like to aid with research projects as well, if those opportunities arise. My goal is to gain as broad and diverse an understanding of natural systems as I can so that I can have adequate knowledge to eventually manage habitat. After developing skills and gaining experience, I aim to eventually become a habitat manager and make management decisions for properties of either governmental and non-governmental agencies.
I’m excited for the REEU internship because I believe it will help me become more organized and intentional with my work, as well as allowing me to better understand research. Understanding and being able to conduct research is valuable to me not only because I expect to be a part of research projects in one way or another in the future, but also because research has direct management implications. Research informs management decisions, and I believe that gaining exposure to research will help me better understand the process and make even better-informed management decisions. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn more and gain experiences that will help me become a more well-rounded natural resources professional.