Alumni Profiles - Meet Austin Conley
Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
Year of Graduation: 2011
Major: Wildlife Conservation
Undergraduate Involvement: Ag Ambassadors
Current position of employment or education: Teacher/Naturalist and video producer for Delaware Nature Society and Service Technician for Advanced Pest Management
Describe your best College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) experience: There are so many that I have to name a few. The Ag Ambassador retreats were always incredibly fun; definitely something that I looked forward to each year. Ag Day was also and still is another great time of year. Being able to take such hands on classes definitely made for a great experience. In my herpetology class we took a trip to Blackbird State Forest and spent the night catching all kinds of reptiles and amphibians.
Which CANR course was your favorite and why? I’d have to say Ornithology was my all-time favorite. Before coming to UD I wasn’t really a big fan of birds; in fact, they drove me crazy. Once I started learning about their behavior and evolution, I really came to respect and take interest in them. Plus the labs in the class were really fun.
Tell us about your current position or program of study and what led you to that field: I have been working for the Delaware Nature Society for five years. I present programs to people of all ages about different aspect of the environment. I also now help write and update the programs that are being taught. I created the children’s blog for DNS so kids can see what is happening outside and learn a little more information about their favorite animals. I have recently started producing videos for DNS to promote some of the programs they offer. I really enjoy using media to reach a larger audience and I hope to bring more interest to environmental education. I was also just hired into the pest management field which I am really excited about. The field has really changed from the exterminators of old. I get to be more like a peace-keeper between plants and animals. I catch and release the animals and then I find out how they got into that location and prevent them from coming back in.
How did your CANR experiences prepare you for your career or post-graduate education? UD and the College of Ag have given me a very well-rounded knowledge base for a career in environmental education. I use what I learned every day when teaching children about trees or knowing how to locate an animal to film.
What advice do you have for students interested in your field? Work hard and pursue what you love no matter how crazy some people might think it is. Also explore every interest you have. Now is the time to find what you want to pursue as a career. Nothing is farfetched if you enjoy it.