Wild Alabama welcomes Hannah Fowler as our summer intern!
Hello Wild Alabama! My name is Hannah Fowler and I will be interning with the organization this summer. My story of how I got to this great opportunity is a bit rambling, but goes little something like this:
In high school, I had always dreamed of being a senator or a representative in the house so that I could have a voice in the government and make a change in how the country works and lives. My long-term goal was the presidency! I don’t know when I decided this— somewhere after realizing I’d make a terrible surgeon if I get queasy at the sight of blood. So, this was my plan, and finally one my Granddad was on board with.
With a new goal in mind, I worked hard to reach it. I was in clubs and organizations with leadership roles, I was on teams and committees, I made straight A’s and took the hardest classes available— anything that would look good on a college resume. And it worked.
Somewhere during my junior year, I heard about a field trip that the Naturalist club to the Conecuh forest. I asked Ms. Starr Weems, the teacher in charge, if I could tag along even if I wasn’t in the club. She responded that if there were still spots available, she’d love for me to go. That is how I found myself driving my ‘97 Ford Taurus in April of 2019 for seven hours with two other students for passengers to a forest that I had only heard of maybe two weeks before in a children’s book we read in class. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
I had grown up around animals, sure. I lived on a cow farm, but this was no cow farm. Jimmy Stiles, wildlife biologist— a career I had never heard of, much less considered for myself— was the guy who handed me a snake, the guy who showed us carnivorous pitcher plants, the guy who took us fossil hunting, the guy who helped us listen to and catch frogs, the guy who on the next Wednesday was casually picking up another alligator. And this was his job?! He got to do this stuff every day in the outdoors and wasn’t stuck in some 9-5 office job? Sign me up. This new career idea threw a wrench in my plans, so along with applying to big name schools up north, I also applied to Auburn— a backup plan I told myself.
My hard work paid off. I got my acceptance letter to my dream school in February of 2020, and with a huge scholarship that is rare at the prestigious New York University (NYU). It wasn’t until May that I actually decided to go. The school was expensive and my mom was already working full time with two other part time jobs. She assured me that I would go because it was the opportunity of a lifetime and the school of my dreams. I packed up and moved to New York in August of 2020.
I immediately fell in love with the city and the people I was surrounded by. I had never been happier and confident, and I was thriving. I am in the Global Liberal Studies program that will send me abroad my junior year and put me in place to work in the government by the time I graduate.
But, sometime in the first semester I had a break down and called my mom crying. What if I had made a mistake? What if I was supposed to be at Auburn where I had been offered a full ride? What if I was supposed to live out my life in the forest and be a herpetologist? My mom calmed me down explaining I was exactly where I needed to be and I could change my mind at any point. I didn’t think about it again. I finished the semester with two A’s and two A-‘s, came home for winter break, and returned to the city in late January.
In the beginning of March 2021, I was placed in an isolation dorm after I tested positive for COVID. I had a small suitcase of clothes, some yarn to crochet with, a book for my science class, and ten days ahead of me. After day two, when I had crocheted an entire sweater vest and watched two seasons of Masterchef, I picked up the book. I didn’t set it down until day six when I finished it. Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction told the stories of her exploring the world and watching it die. Each chapter was about a different species, a different organization, a different scientist.
Right then I decided that’s what I was going to do. I emailed my professor from my first semester who taught a class, Living in the Anthropocene. I met with my advisor. I met with the Environmental Science department and I declared a second major in Environmental Studies. To say in the least, I was inspired, and the isolation had me thinking. Why couldn’t I do both? The environment sure is mentioned in government and politics, and someone needs to be trying to save it from high up. So now I am pursuing a double major. That is decided.
I emailed Ms. Weems from high school and I explained the situation and asked if she knew anyone who could help me pursue my goal while I was home for the summer and that is how I came to find Wild Alabama and I love it. I am here to observe the organization from all aspects to see how it works from paper trails to trail maintenance, I want to experience it all. Thank you all for the opportunity!