My Journey in Becoming a Conservation Ambassador

This week’s blog was written by Vanessa V., a Bucktails alumni. Vanessa shares her virtual field school experience.

I was introduced to the Wildlife Leadership Academy by my eighth-grade science teacher, Barbara Sharpe. I’ve had many experiences in my life, but having the opportunity to be in WLA was the best one and I owe it all to the staff of WLA. In June, I attended the Bucktails field school in hopes of expanding my knowledge of wildlife and I received exactly that. The WLA staff and alumni made sure that we had an amazing virtual experience and I loved every second of it.

One of my favorite activities that we did during field school was nature journaling. I enjoyed this because I was able to show everyone my poetic and literary skills. Another activity that I enjoyed and learned was how to identify plants from Cat Pugh and Dr. Chris Sacchi. I enjoyed learning this because I am able to apply my knowledge of different plant species to the world and I am able to identify plants that I did not know how to identify before. I didn’t think that I would have so much passion for nature journaling and identifying plants. I am so grateful that I am able to have these skills and that I am able to teach them to my family and friends.

Being a part of the Wildlife Leadership Academy and being virtual definitely had an impact on me. The part of the virtual school that influenced me the most was presenting. It had the most impact on me because even if we were virtual and didn’t get to see one another face to face, it really helped me boost my confidence and it taught me that I shouldn’t hold back on what I have to say.

A program like WLA matters to me because they show that they are dedicated to teaching us about wildlife and they show patience toward our struggles. It also matters because before I joined WLA, I was clueless about wildlife and how overbrowsing affects deer habitat. Conservation is important to me because I want to protect wildlife and prevent their ecosystems from being harmed in the future. It is also important because I think taking the steps to fix or take care of something shows amazing leadership skills. Learning how to become a Conservation Ambassador was the most challenging but amazing opportunity I’ve had. It was challenging because I didn’t know most of the information that other people knew and I was very shy at the beginning. I witnessed myself grow into a confident young girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and who isn’t afraid to present in front of people.

Since I gained confidence I decided to push myself to gain bonus outreach points. To give other students the opportunity to become a conservation ambassador and have the experience of a lifetime, I want to Pay it Forward. The goal of paying it forward is to raise $500 to cover another student’s tuition cost for the program. I am beyond excited to participate in Pay it Forward and to change another student’s life for the better.

In conclusion, I think everyone should look into applying for the Wildlife Leadership Academy because it is an amazing opportunity to learn about wildlife even if you do not see yourself pursuing this type of career. I have had many experiences in my life, but having the opportunity to be a part of the Wildlife Leadership Academy was and is one of the best experiences I have ever had.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.