McNeese State University student Tanner Broussard spent his summer with wolves.
Broussard, a junior natural resource conservation management major from Sulphur, interned at the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minnesota.
McNeese’s Bachelor of Science degree program in natural resource conservation management in the College of Agricultural Sciences gives students an understanding of science as it relates to the environment and natural resources. Students study in such areas as plant and animal ecology, wetland delineations and wildlife techniques. They receive specialized training in water and soil testing and other ecological conservation techniques.
“I have had many incredible opportunities to be a part of some really cool things,” Broussard said. “A favorite part was being able to observe, interact and care for such a variety of animals from wolves and porcupines to tortoises and falcons. Also, wolf puppies!”
The Wildlife Science Center works to educate all ages by providing exposure to wild animals and the body of knowledge generated for their conservation. The center advances the understanding of wild animal biology through long-term, humane scientific studies on captive populations, thus contributing to technical training for wildlife agencies, educational institutions and conservation agencies.
McNeese wasn’t Broussard’s first choice for college. He started at another school with other plans until he realized it was not for him and he took some time off. While tending bar, Broussard reflected on what his interests were and what he was naturally drawn towards.
“I knew I wanted to work with wild animals, and majoring in natural resource conservation management was the best option to achieve my goal,” explained Broussard. “McNeese has small classes, good course curriculum and more individualized attention from professors and advisers.”
Broussard planned to stay at McNeese only a semester or two before transferring. Dr. Eddie Lyons, natural resource conservation management professor, talked to Broussard about internships and other opportunities he could only get a McNeese. He decided to stay and credits Dr. Lyons with helping him land the internship.
While working at the Wildlife Science Center, Broussard used the knowledge he gained at McNeese about animals and how they interact in ecosystems. Working with animals daily during the internship, he learned more about how to read and understand animal behavior. The experience has helped him gain the knowledge he will need to work with animals in the future, whether in a captive setting or in the wild.
Broussard plans to continue working with endangered animals.
“I would like to study red wolves in the wild and be a part of their reintroduction efforts. The Gulf Coast region from Galveston, Texas to Johnson Bayou in Louisiana was the last area these wolves remained in the wild, so I feel a personal connection and responsibility to help these animals reclaim their place in the wild,” Broussard explained. “Eventually, I would like to open an education facility in Southwest Louisiana like the Wildlife Science Center that would primarily feature red wolves as well as other local wildlife species.”
For students looking for internships, Broussard recommends always having your resume ready and regularly checking different job boards. He says opportunities are constantly being posted.
“Thanks to McNeese, I am in a completely different position than I was a year ago. I had been bar tending for the past seven years and now I am working in Minnesota with wolves, bears and mountain lions every day,” Broussard said. “I’m living my dream!”
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