By Hayden Foolkes
Tanner Danos “took a shot” on McNeese when he decided to pursue his agricultural sciences degree. From Galliano, Tanner says that while he grew up surrounded by cattle and horses, he never realized that his background could become his career.
“I was aware that McNeese was around, but I didn’t realize how amazing our agriculture program is,” he says. “My friend from FFA in high school, Brennan Uzee, said, ‘Hey, I think you should check it out. I’ve been here a year and I think it would benefit you. It’s like a small town with a personal touch.’ Since we’re both from small towns, he thought that would be right up my alley.”
Alongside visitng McNeese, Tanner toured the two other biggest schools in Louisiana that offer hands-on agricultural programs – LA Tech and LSU. He says that he was most impressed by what McNeese had to offer.
“In the Introduction to Animal Science class, you’re assigned a baby pig in the very first week and you have to care for it, and that’s how you start learning about animal behavior,” he says. “It is amazing to see Mr. Darren Goodwin and all the farm hands sit there with these students and teach them and work with them. Hands-on learning is something that all the students in the agricultural sciences department get to have here on a daily basis.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on everyone, Tanner still found ways to get involved.
“COVID was a challenging time, especially because the 18- to 22-year-old range is really a critical point in your life where you try to find yourself and who you’re going to be,” he says. “But I actually got into the collegiate FFA, which is a chapter we have in our department. I joined the Cattleman’s Association club and the Block and Bridle club, and I sat with the SGA members this year working hand in hand with them trying to get stuff done around campus.” Being a part of these clubs, Tanner says he was able to build on the leadership skills that his degree has helped him develop.
But Tanner’s path at McNeese wasn’t always straightforward.
“At one point, I was on the fence whether or not I should stay in college,” he says. “I was asking myself, ‘Do I want to do this? Is this where I want to be?’ You know, I think we all get that at one point in our college career where we’re like, ‘What am I doing?’.”
One day, Tanner approached Associate Professor of Agricultural Sciences Dr. Thomas Shields after his 302 class ended and he expressed some of his concerns.
“He just sat me down and told me, ‘Hey, you got this, you’re gonna do it. This is where you want to be. You made it this far,’” Tanner says. ” And I think at that point is when I realized how special McNeese was to me, because we have professors that care. He didn’t have to take the time to talk to me. He could have told me, ‘Shoot me an email.’ But he took the time out of his day to sit there and say, ‘Hey, what’s the problem?’ At that moment in my college career it really hit me and pushed me to want to be a better me.”
Now, Tanner is looking forward to gaining experience this summer at a whitetail deer ranch in north Louisiana. Once unsure if he would ever finish his degree, he says now that he’s excited by the prospect of graduate school.
“The internship goes hand-in-hand with what I’d like to pursue a master’s degree in and where I want to further my knowledge, which is in nutrition,” he says. “Deer are ruminant animals, and I’m excited to spend some one-on-one time with them and learn how they operate and really get the small details that you only get when you do hands-on learning.”