Each spring, the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) announces the student recipients and finalists of the 2021-2022 College of Agricultural and Life Sciences awards! These awards are made annually to students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for exemplary academics and outstanding leadership. This Spring, WEC student, Hannah Henry was recognized as a Top 10 Senior! This award represents the highest standards in the college experience, academics, campus involvement, community service, research, and more. Here are some questions Hannah answered regarding her experiences and future plans!
What made you choose UF/WEC?
“I visited Yellowstone National Park with my grandparents where they took me to see a spring called Morning Glory. I got to see the pictures of the spring when it was bright blue before any human impact, and when I saw the spring in person, it was yellow from all the debris thrown in it. I also had the opportunity to go to Iceland for my AP Environmental Science class where I learned about renewable energy sources from guest speakers, but what drew me to wildlife was was working for a camp at Seaworld!”
“My plan after graduation right now is to work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines doing a parrot population estimate with FIU for a year. I am super excited to be able to get hands-on experience in the field there and live there for the summer. Then, I will be applying for graduate programs to continue research in environmental education. I am really interested in conservation [biology] and being able to do research as well as having the ability to explain to people what my research is.”
What has been your favorite experience from UF/WEC?
“My favorite experience this far is getting to work with Dr. Katie Sieving. She has been an amazing faculty mentor and right when I was starting to become interested in doing my own research, she took me under her wing and has been an incredible mentor these past two years. Hopefully this summer I will get to present our research in Puerto Rico at the American Ornithological Society! She has just been a really great person to look up to as a scientist and as a friend.”
Is there anyone who stood out to you/motivated you through college?
“I would again say Dr. Katie Sieving! She has just always been there and been happy to answer questions and support all of my different pursuits. I think it is also really cool getting to see someone in a place where you would like to be and seeing the possibilities for the future by following down this path.”
“In terms of academics, I took a class with Dr. Hull called Human Wildlife System, it’s a graduate class, and I thought it was so important to talk about how you can conduct as much research as you want but if you don’t connect with the people, there is a huge distance with that. You really have to make sure you’re translating what is happening and get people who may not be scientists involved in that effort to continue conservation. I definitely think it’s something that people miss at times because they think scientists don’t want to be around people but I think it is starting to go the other direction because we want to be as involved as we can.
In CALS there’s this thing called leadership institute and they pick a cohort every year and we get to do three semesters learning about leadership. This past spring break we did our bonding trip and I got to go back to Yellowstone! It was so interesting comparing it to when I was a kid by coming back and seeing the same place that really inspired me, also being with the people I met who are all interested in the environment and leaving it better for future generations.
Right now I work with FWC (Fish & Wildlife Conservation) as the Assistant Director at the Ocala Conservation Center and one of my favorite things I get to do is run a big summer camp there. It’s all about conservation education, hunting and everything just to get kids outdoors, and it is super fulfilling getting to see kids change throughout the week and hoping that the experience they have here will get them into working with the environment or even just having an appreciation for it.”
Are you from Florida originally?
“Yes, I am from Orlando! I lived right next to Seaworld and went to Freedom High School.”
Do you plan to stay in Florida for your research in the future?
“I think right now I want to start doing more international research because conservation is a global issue. I think it’s really important to get to see different perspectives and get to help areas that may not have the resources that we have here. But [also] focusing on species we have here is important because they need help too!”
Is there anything else that you would like to share with everyone?
“The fun fact I always go to is that I have trained my cat to do tricks! He is a stray that I got at the shelter from the Operation Catnip program and he is just amazing. His name is Smokey!”