December 14, 2011

Why we do what we do

It is the end of the semester, and life gets a bit crazy for students and their professors these days.  During grading of final exams, one can start to ponder why one didn't go into a life of research (no teaching) or running a car wash or some other job that does not require the grading of 5 pages of essays for 45 students.  Not saying it's happened to me, but it might have. 

The alternative job that I would most enjoy would be to be the 'car guard' in the parking lot of a grocery store in a country like Namibia.  Well, specifically Namibia.  I watch your car while you shop and you give me 50 cents. 

The allure of such a prestigious car guarding position can be so great that it is nice to be reminded 'why we do what we do' at the University.  A couple of things recently bounced me back from my foggy dreams of standing on tarmac, watching the shoppers with their treasures.

Josiah Dallmann, sophomore Fisheries and Wildlife major at UNL, explains
his undergraduate research results to fellow delegates at the Midwest Fish
and Wildlife Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
Last week, four of my students and I participated in the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Des Moines, Iowa last week.  Students had the opportunity to share their research results and mingle with biologists and managers from across the Midwest.  I went to my first MFWC in 1990 as a graduate student at Iowa State, so am starting to be 'one of the old guys'--although not as old as I made my former advisor feel when I introduced my students to him as his 'academic grandchildren...'  It is always good to meet with colleagues and share this experience with students. 

I make no apologies for trolling social media, because it is an enjoyable passtime for an introvert who has made certain life choices and wants to watch others exploring the choices that I discarded.  Biologists who work for NGOs or agencies.  Friends who decided to stay in my hometown.  Colleagues who selected different regions of the country for their careers.  All worthy choices, and the what-if game is fun as you page through postings of first babies, hunting trips, and new puppies.

Stephanie Walden, UNL Fisheries and Wildlife alum, suits up for a low-level,
aerial waterfowl survey.  Photo stolen from Facebook.
But, I do take my share of ribbing about spending time on social media.  And, then a photo like this pops up, and you realize--this is the other reason you troll if you are a teacher: to see if anything, anything, anything at all rubbed off on your students. 

Nice job, Stephanie!  I enjoyed seeing your excitement as you suited up to do your first aerial waterfowl survey.  Made my day.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks can rest assured that information from your class stayed with me :) Glad I could make your day!