Studying on the Wild Side: A Day in the Life of a Conservation Biology Major

16 Apr

We all meet people throughout college that are studying different things. If you’re like me in any way, you might ask yourself a few questions. What classes do they take? You go on field trips?! They have those in college? Do you do research? What does a typical day look like? The list of questions goes on and on. Fortunately, I am here to answer some of those questions for one of my majors: Conservation Biology.

First off, the full title of the major is, Renewable Natural Resources- Conservation Biology, but that is far too long to say and most of the time i lose people at the second word, so Conservation Biology it is. A typical day for an RNR major as they are nicknamed goes a little something like this…

Go to class. As a RNR major you are required to take classes like Conservation Biology, Genetics, Measurements and Mammalogy.. Yes, I said Mammalogy. You might be asking what the heck is that class? In short the study of mammals, but in long, a semester’s work of dedication to memorizing, recalling and sight identification of 150 animals native to Arizona and the wester United States. Now, this might make it seem like there is a lot of library time memorizing, but that is far from the truth. Here is was the class looks like:

We did a lot of research outside in areas throughout Arizona. We saw some pretty awesome locations and views.

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A major in conservation biology doesn’t require that you conduct or participate in research, but there are ample opportunities to do so throughout the college. I participated in a joint study between U of A and Arizona Game and Fish Department where we studied the wildlife-urban interface in Chandler, AZ. It was an awesome way to get “field” experience and it looks great on a resume!

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Part of the being a RNR major means that at some point in time you will have to work with wildlife. By work, I mean hands on work. As groups we would catch and analyze small mammals like the one below. Isn’t he cute!

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You spend a lot of time with the people in your major and many times they become some of your closest friends. A campfire always helps the bonding also.

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Sometimes, you get dared to do some silly things and have to eat a grasshopper… The key is not opening your mouth after you put it in.

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We survived, and it didn’t actually taste too bad. I earned some bonus points with the professor that day though.

The major isn’t always outdoors, camping and eating weird bugs though. There are different tracks that you can follow. My focus was on policy and law which allowed me the opportunity to participate in an internship for the Arizona State Senate.

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I was of the only student who wasn’t a political science major (nothing against Poli Sci), but this was an advantage. I had experienced or followed many of the laws that guide agencies such as the Arizona Game and Fish Department when doing research and field work, so I had a unique perspective that proved beneficial.

Overall, my major may not be typical, but it has sure been a blast. Despite the memorizing. I encourage you to ask your friends what a typical day looks like in their major or to take an elective class that counts towards your graduation, but is outside of what you would typically study. You never know what will interest you!

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