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MTA SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Essay by Ryan Forster

From a young age I have grown up with a passion for everything outdoors. Being raised in the country as an only child I have learned to appreciate all that nature has to offer. Growing up, my first love when it came to the outdoors was deer hunting. Some of the great memories I have with my parents and my extended family have occurred while chasing deer during the eight-day firearm season each fall. Unfortunately, outside of November my exposure to other types of hunting was limited. As I got a little older, many family friends and mentors in my life worked hard to introduce me to new experiences. I soon began waterfowl hunting with friends at school, I was able to pheasant hunt with a family friend and his dog, and I even had the opportunity to hunt Sandhill Cranes in North Dakota with a man at my church. I have a huge appreciation for each of these outdoor role models who took time to pass on their experience and knowledge in the pursuit of wild game. Though hunting has always been something I enjoyed in nature, my path towards turning my passion into a career didn’t occur until my freshman year of high school. For a semester project in one of my high school wildlife classes, we were required to spend ten hours doing a supervised agricultural activity. For this project I had the privilege of attending the Lake Carlos State Park annual bird count. Since this was my first time doing anything like this I was able to participate alongside the Park Naturalist at the state park. Throughout my day with him I learned not only about the birds we were recording but about his job at the park. I loved it so much I decided to volunteer again the next year without being required to for a class. This experience opened my eyes to the wide variety of potential careers in wildlife sciences and is the biggest reason why I am choosing to pursue a career in this field. This fall I plan to attend Bemidji State University majoring in wildlife biology and minoring in communications. In 5 years, I’d love to be out of college with a bachelor’s degree and starting my career as a park naturalist at one of the many state or national parks in the Midwest. But before I can achieve this goal there is a lot of work to be done in the meantime.

One of the ways I hope to prepare myself for my career in the near future is to become a member in the Bemidji State University chapter of the wildlife society. As a member I hope to learn and create relationships with other students who share similar passions for wildlife conservation and education as I do. By becoming a member of the Wildlife Society at Bemidji it could also open doors to new outdoor experiences which I find super exciting. The second thing I hope to do in the short term is to find opportunities to volunteer with local outdoor organizations. Examples of this include helping at events through organizations like Viking Sportsmen or helping lead a booth at the annual youth outdoor activity day at our local trap range. By volunteering I am not only helping my community through acts of service, but developing connections with people who are active in local movements teaching others to appreciate our natural resources. Another very exciting short-term goal of mine is to participate in an internship at Lake Carlos State Park. This is a paid internship through the state of Minnesota for college students pursuing a degree in a natural resource related field. As a part of this internship, I will work with the Naturalist at the park and get a true behind the scenes view of what a career as a park Naturalist would look like. By achieving some of these short-term goals I am hoping that they will propel me towards some of my longer-term career goals.

One of the most important long-term goals I have is to earn my college degree. Without a degree my chances of becoming a Naturalist drop dramatically. To increase my chances of landing a job after getting a degree in wildlife biology I decided to add communications as a minor. The reason I decided to do this is because of the large amount of interaction the job requires. I want to make sure that not only know the information required for my job but am able to share that knowledge with the people I’ll be interacting with.

The second long term goal I have is to find a job where I can work in the same place for an extended period of time. I like the idea of putting down roots somewhere where I can create solid relationships with the people I am in contact with at work. I would rather not jump from place to place but instead find a location to “plug in” and watch it grow over time. The third and ultimate goal   I have for the future is to help people slow down and appreciate the natural world around them.  I fear that the public overlooks the beauty that can be found in our natural resources and doesn’t enjoy them to their full potential. By introducing people to different outdoor activities and educating them about the outdoors they can learn to respect all of the things nature has to offer. Much like the mentors in my life that have passed on their passion for the outdoors to me, I hope to teach others about the importance of nature and conservation as a part of my career. In order to share with people, the importance of conservation, they must first understand what conservation is. To me, conservation is an effort to protect and maintain a resource for future generations. Our natural resources can be fragile and history shows that without conservation the land can be degraded quite easily. If the public is not cognizant of their impact on the world around them some of the outdoor places we hold dearest could be changed forever. In order to protect these special places to preserve it for future generations.

For this reason, I am a strong believer that education must be a precursor to conservation. The public needs to know about their impact on our natural resources because, at the end of the day, we all have the responsibility to be conservationists. Two of the communities fighting hardest for conservation are hunting and trapping organizations. Activities like hunting and trapping have been around since the beginning of man and are deeply ingrained in our culture. As an outdoorsman, it has become apparent to me that when people participate in consumptive wildlife activities the level of respect for the animals they chase increases dramatically. This respect for animals is why I think hunting and trapping organizations are leaders in conservation practices such as population management and habitat rehabilitation. These organizations understand the importance of a balanced ecosystem and responsible consumptive wildlife activities are crucial to maintaining that balance. Not only do consumptive wildlife practices teach people to respect animals, but they increase a person’s knowledge about the animals. The knowledge and skill required to hunt or trap a wild animal in their own habitat far surpasses any information about that animal a person could gather from a textbook. In an age with information at our fingertips, I fear that real world applications to the things we learn falls through the cracks. Hunting and trapping are activities where people not only learn about nature, but learn lessons applicable to everyday life.

- Ryan Forster - Carolos, MN

RYAN’S THANK YOU LETTER

Dear MTA Scholarship Committee,

Thank you for selecting me as a recipient of an MTA Scholarship for the 2020-2021 school year. I am grateful for your support as I move towards achieving my academic and career goals. As I wrap up my first semester doing online school at Bemidji State University. I am even more excited for what the future holds. This fall I was able to complete almost all of my general education classes which means from now on my schedule will be filled with classes more focused on my wildlife biology major. My advisors and faculty at BSU have been so helpful putting me in places where I can succeed. Your generosity through this scholarship has helped do the same thing. My dream of becoming a park naturalist has become even more achievable through your financial help and for that I am so thankful. The outdoors has always been an important place to me and as a naturalist, I hope to help people understand and appreciate everything nature has to offer.

Thank you for your role in helping me share my passion for the outdoors with others.
 
-Ryan Forster - Carolos, MN

MTA SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Essay by Gracie Arhart

My name is Gracie Arhart. I am pursuing a natural resource management degree at Bemidji State University (BSU). I am interested in land management, especially in wetland restoration projects. The government cannot buy or preserve all the lands necessary for wildlife conservation in this country. I agree with Aldo Leopold, the father of modern wildlife management and creator of the "Land Ethic" concept, that private landowners, who believe in conservation. We need to do a better job as local, county, state, and federal government entities and as communities to persuade private landowners to combine public and private conservation interests to the most significant possible degree. I want to do something about it by being the best natural resource manager that I can, by working with, not against private landowners.

I was born April 18, 2001, in Crosby, Minnesota. My father was the Aitkin Conservation Officer (CO/Game Warden), and my mother was a jailer/dispatcher for Aitkin County. In 2001, my dad was transferred to the Deer River station, and all seven family members moved to a home near Squaw Lake in Itasca County. I completed elementary school in Squaw Lake and in Blackduck, Minnesota. I graduated from Blackduck High School, May 2019 with a 3.6 GPA. At Blackduck High School, I was a student leader and organized many conservation and recreation-related school activities. I was the captain of the varsity volleyball team and the lead in the audio/visual department. I volunteer my time at church and community events. I did many ride alongs with my CO dad before he retired in 2014.

During summers, I worked cleaning cabins for area resorts. I also worked for the US Forest Service as a Youth Conservation Corp member. I also worked as a kennel assistant at a local veterinary hospital. This summer, I was scheduled to have an interview for the Deer River Crew internship and potentially get the job, but sadly it fell short and was canceled due to Covid-19. All my summer and part-time jobs have provided great working experiences. That is why I chose educational and career goals in the natural resource management area, especially wetland conservation and restoration.

My family has always been involved in conservation efforts and lives the outdoor lifestyle. I have grown up in rural Aitkin, Itasca, and Beltrami counties participating in most consumptive and non-consumptive resource activities available. My dad took us along hunting, trapping, angling, foraging, kayaking, hiking, sports netting, boating, ATVing, snowmobiling, ricing, birding, and skiing. As an adult, I still participate in as many of these activities as I can. I volunteer my skills and time and work with local lake associations, creating shoreline and upland fish and wildlife habitats. During the CO ride along program, I learned how to effectively interact with all types of people, both consumptive and non-consumptive resource users. I also learned that it is usually better for the resource to spend time to protect habitat instead of dealing with single animal incidents (over limits). Also, conservation ethics can be difficult to mandate. Public education is the key to gaining public appreciation and compliance with natural resource laws.

Concerning living communities, I have been fortunate to grow up amidst my grandparents' 160-acre wetland and prairie restoration project in south-central Minnesota. Converted wetlands and prairie were restored on this farm. I have been able to observe and study the restorations closely. The habitats slowly came back along with all the ecological and community benefits. I believe my grandparents did the right thing in restoring these wetland and prairie habitats.

I feel natural resource conservation depends on public support for conservation practices and policies—license and user fees fund conservation programs. Wildlife, including furbearers, is a public resource. Furbearers and other natural resources are public and should be shared by the public, using fair laws based upon wildlife science. Wildlife resources should only be killed for legitimate purposes. Science is the proper tool for the implementation of wildlife policies. I believe in the democracy of appropriate legal, ethical, and reasonable uses of wildlife. That is conservation.

Short-term goals include continuing a high academic standard at BSU. Other short-term goals include summer employment. I hope to keep finding jobs where I can learn something new and still make some college savings. My cabin cleaning, USFS, and kennel assistant jobs provided me with great self-motivation and leadership skills. I still plan on volunteering my time and skills to area conservation groups and community programs. I will also be doing as many outdoor activities as possible and learning as much as I can. I believe in giving something back. I like the opportunity to volunteer for something that has a purpose.

In five years, I see myself working for a private consulting firm or a governmental agency, cooperating with landowners in developing land ethics that benefit all-natural resources, furbearers included. I hope to live in a rural area in North America where I can be a good land steward example for my community. I plan on graduating from BSU with a BS degree in either natural resource land management or wildlife biology. I also have an ongoing veterinary technology interest. I see myself having livestock and pets on a small hobby farm somewhere. I do enjoy the outdoor lifestyle wherever life takes me.

For some people, in today's society, trapping is a part of their lifestyle. Consumptive wildlife use activities readily contribute to past and present societies. The early fur trade in North America fueled economies and started a new nation. There are still people in North America who do rely on sustainable trapping as a greater part of their income, either directly or indirectly. I believe that trappers and other consumptive users of wildlife have created a historic tradition regarding the land, plants, animals, and natural communities. Wise trappers are wise wildlife managers. Furbearer resources belong to all of us and should be shared accordingly.

My CO dad shared with me the story of how illegal trapping can easily upset the shared public resource. When my dad was asked at an MTA Board meeting why the DNR had a 09:00 a.m. opener for muskrat trapping, he offered a personal example. My grandpa was trying to keep up on farm payments with trapping income. He arrived at a public marsh in the early morning of opening day and was shocked and dismayed to see all the wetland's muskrat houses already staked with traps containing drowned muskrats! Traps had been set during the darkness, hours before season! The local game warden had a broken leg, and justice was not served this time. Those poached muskrats were stolen from the public. Laws and limits keep wildlife at optimum levels.

Even with shrinking habitats in Minnesota and remote states and provinces, there will always be a need to manage wildlife populations. Recruitment of new tappers and other outdoors people is one of the most effective ways to create new conservationists. I can work with these consumptive and non-consumptive wildlife users, managing our public resources. As a wildlife manager, this vision can come true for me with help from the MTA scholarship program.

- Gracie Arhart- Squaw Lake, MN

GRACIE’S THANK YOU LETTER
Dear MTA Scholarship Committee,

I am writing this to express my appreciation and gratitude for selecting me for a Minnesota Trappers Association Scholarship 2020. I was delighted when I found out my selection for a scholarship.  I am honored to be chosen and am truly grateful for the support from the MTA Committee. By receiving this scholarship, it will help me to provide assistance for my education, lower my financial burdens, and help to reach my educational goals.

I am currently a sophomore and am planning to get my Associates of Arts Degree and go into the Natural Resources field. With hopes of pursuing a job in land management. I would be incredibly lucky to do what I love and get to be outside. With the financial assistance you provided for me, it will help me to reach my goals and pay schooling expenses. It will also allow for more time to study and to get an internship in the natural resources field.

Thank you again for your generosity and support. I am very thankful and fortunate for this program. I will continue to work hard throughout my entire school year and focus on achieving my goals through education.

- Gracie Arhart- Squaw Lake, MN

MTA SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Essay by Ian Johnson

If I were to tell the story of how I grew up, trapping, and the pride of being a trapper would be critical to my tale. The woods of northern Minnesota provided a second home that I explored alongside my old man, from the weasel box lines behind the house to every darn creek or stream that could hold a mink or even a couple muskrats. As I was too young to sit in a tree, the highlight of the fall and winter seasons before Christmas came not on the first weekend of November, but several weeks later, when the green light to pursue marten and fisher was given, in that ever-shortening season. I began trapping because it was my father’s passion, and there seemed nothing better to me than spending time in the woods with my dad, getting to “drive” in his lap on old dirt roads, and catching animals in “my” sets. A practical kid, I highlight that I preferred and participated in the catching aspect exclusively, as the trapping my dad did involved checking too many empty sets for my liking.

Consequently, as I returned home to fascinate and amaze my mother and younger brothers with daily stories of my woodsman prowess, the amount of work, effort, and deserved credit/admiration/reward always skewed heavily in my favor, who would have guessed? As I grew, my contributions to the trapping trade grew, if never quite reaching those of my tall-tales; I further was immersed in the ageless fur harvesting industry. Alongside my watchful father, I advanced from skinning with a plastic knife alongside him to learning to skin, flesh, and pelt on my own, though I inherited my dad's disdain working with fatty raccoons. I left most of those to him, nobly allowing him to face his fears and all.

As curiosity and advancing age lead to my becoming more actively engaged in all facets of a fur takers' life, my trapping experience expanded past the wood and stream and to conventions, district meetings, and even tagging along to educational outreaches with my dad and his veteran woodsman peers. To my surprise, I learned many kids and adults alike lacked the ability to differentiate tracks, scat, or even fur samples on a poster; skills I considered essential and necessary for any self-respecting elementary-aged kid. My appreciation for the difference in backgrounds and their impact on people's understanding of different topics, such as trapping, was sharpened during these interactions.

As a young man entering my 4th and final year studying in a flagship State university in the cities, that appreciation has been tested and explored through my interactions with peers on campus. The tenants of University are Unity and Diversity; foundations meant to provide a platform for individuals of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures to meet, interact, and challenge one another in shared academic pursuits. One conversation that stands out to me was with a classmate who was arguing the merits of a PETA article about the barbaric trapping practice. Having spoken before about my background in outdoor sports and growing up in the countryside, she approached me, asking my opinion of some of the article’s points. One of the myths dispelled was about the barbarity of the jagged-toothed foothold traps that put animals in such agony they were forced to chew off their own limbs to escape the pain. I was able to point out that instruments such as she described were illegal, and impractical as smooth and gapped footholds provided a better hold. I also explained how swivels were used to prevent injury, and about the mandated checking practices for lethal and non-lethal sets to ensure animals weren’t long in the trap. Furthermore, we discussed how similar to a rubber band on your arm/finger, the foothold would end up numbing the animal’s leg and that even were the trapper to just desire monetary gain from the sport using a trap with teeth to tear up the pelt would make no sense.

Another aspect we spoke of was the article's statement that pups and other dependent young animals would starve to death in dens as their parents were stuck in a trap. In this answer, I was able to address the seasons and regulations for trapping in Minnesota, how they avoided overlapping with these times, and how trappers disobeying the regulated seasons would be self-defeating as catching mothers would likely condemn the young and damage the population in the future. Similar to before, even if we hypothetically assumed the sportsman to be ethically disinclined and strictly wanted to make money, the argument didn’t hold water. I explained most furbearers have their young in the spring, a time when pelts are worth the least as they lack thickness, color, and texture that would come during the fall and winter seasons. The conversation ended on personal beliefs of the morality of taking a creature's life. I shared that my trapping participation, like many others, was to enjoy nature, celebrate a heritage, spend time with family, put myself in the place of a creature while working to outsmart it. Also, I believed and that no true sportsperson simply delighted in the kill alone, but the breath of the sport. My classmate said she felt she had a better grasp on the issues, understood the arguments against that article, and though personally didn’t feel thought she could ethically participate, thanked me for the discussion and a resulting better understanding of the sport. Many people don’t have the trapping background and resulting knowledge that we are privy to and have views influenced strictly by harmful myths and legends perpetuated by the media. These encounters reminded me of how fortunate I am for my background and the importance of discussions with and education for those who don’t! I realized how much more important this is in the cities and that many have similar biases as my peer. Sadly often, those making the laws and regulations for trappers themselves have incomplete understandings of the sport and its participants.

Seeking interactions such as the one above, was part of my reasoning for attending a large state University. In high school, I was involved in DECA, Student Government, National Honor Society, and Envirothon alongside athletic participation. I enjoy pursuing curiosities, and through those interactions, my great interest in business became evident. I entered college unsure of what exact discipline under the “business student” umbrella I wished to pursue. Yet through involvement in groups such as Student Accounting and Finance Association (SAFA) and the Investment and Finance Organization (InFO), I found a keen interest in how small businesses grow and scale and one day become household names. I was fortunate to secure an internship for the 2020 summer at a small Investment Bank. Though delayed by the COVID pandemic, I am excited to begin in my Finance and Banking career, where I will be able to work with and understand smaller business clients alike to those who first sparked my Finance interest.

In the short term, I hold several goals as I approach my final year of undergraduate studies. Firstly, I want to take advantage of my summer internship this summer both as a final evaluation of my fit in the Investment Banking career field and a measure of my ability to apply academia to the real world. The internship has been something I’ve worked most of my college career for, and I am truly blessed for the opportunity ahead. Now is the time to reward the trust my employer took in hiring me. Secondly, I am working to join the student outreach team for the Fall semester regarding study abroad. Though my experience was cut short prematurely due to COVID, spending several months in Australia was a genuinely transformative experience. Living within another culture broadened my horizons, gave me new life perspectives and friends, while also making me wonder how much catching a Dingo would differ from a Coyote back home. Joining the outreach would allow me to share my experience and encourage other students to take the leap and embrace an abroad experience like I was blessed to be able to. Lastly, I would like to finish my senior year strong academically, regardless of what form COVID will allow it to take.

College is often heralded as a chance for people to discover who they are and forge the person they want to be. For me, my long-term goal has revolved around laying the foundations and benchmarks for the man I want to be. I have a year left, and now the rubber hits the road. As I’ve said, it all begins and ends, with a commitment to living with Integrity foremost and using it as a benchmark to hold myself too when my character wavers in ways I am ashamed of. I want to surround myself, both personally and professionally, with men and women of a high character whose mannerisms I wish to emulate. That consideration was a significant factor in my excitement to receive an offer at my current firm, and they showed their values clearly in our interactions rather than as buzzwords for PR purposes. I hope that both this summer and, in the future, that the reputation of the character and Integrity that I desire supersedes simply my role in the office and describes the man I wish to be everywhere. Five years down the road, my goal is to be on a journey continually working to that end.

To me, conservation begins and ends with one thing- stewardship. The responsibility of looking after something for mutual benefit is symbolic of the relationships between trappers and nature. As sportsmen, we want to utilize God’s bounty but to do so sustainably and ethically that allows future generations down the road to do the same. The world is very different than it was when I first followed my dad on the trapline, and likely will be even more so the day he takes his grandchildren to check weasel boxes. However, correct stewardship by trappers would work to ensure that he gets that opportunity in an everchanging world. As such, it requires not leaving nature entirely to its own devices nor holding strictly true to traditional practices but ever-adapting to guide wildlife and habitat alike to a healthy future. Part of that is having educational discussions as recorded above, working to overcome age-old prejudices and ensuring that those marking the laws and regulations for our land have the understanding, backing, and advice of sportsmen to be good stewards together.

A consumptive wildlife activity contributes to society both as a reminder of the morality of the beautiful yet fragile environment we call home and a celebration of an ageless and relevant heritage. Participation in these activities gives an unapparelled view into our natural world, allowing interaction, understanding, and appreciation. Furthermore, who best to know the land, its conditions, disharmonies, and health than those who pursued its bounty and thus correctly and effectively steward it into the future? The trapping heritage in Northern America began as a bloody and explorative tale that gave the new country an idea of what lay to the west of their known world. As time progresses, human interference, everchanging fur markets, and increasing regulations have shaped the evolution of the sport into the one we all enjoy today. Educating the public on the importance of the trapper as an advocate for conservation creates a platform for further education and participation, and can be accomplished by the exploring of the trapping heritage and its evolution. The negative narrative surrounding the sport can be recast as we display how ethical trapping does not add mortality to populations but instead manages them, allowing for sustained yields across generations! Consumptive wildlife activities promote connections with, and knowledge of our area, environment, and ultimately our world to modern society. Thus, helping to dispel ignorance and foster an appreciation for nature, the sport and the trappers who act as stewards of both.

- Ian Johnson - Duluth, MN
IAN'S THANK YOU LETTER

MTA Scholarship Committee,

Thank you for the association’s generosity in providing scholarships and for having selected me as one of the recipients. These scholarships aid and greater opportunity for MTA members and their families and those interested in outdoor fields who may not even belong to the Association (yet). The last year has truly been unprecedented and one of a kind.

I'm sure that statement reads redundant due to overuse by now, but I started 2020 taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to study abroad in Sydney, Australia! The outback and bush are magnificent, untamed, and rugged. However, I learned I prefer the cold of the Northern Minnesota Woods: where the number of spiders, snakes, and other native species that could kill me remains comfortably below the north country's population. With the rise of COVID-19 worldwide, international students were suddenly informed we had a couple of days to leave, and I was unable to catch and bring back the Dingo pelt my dad’s only requested souvenir. However, I did manage to catch COVID on the evacuation-flight home as a souvenir and spent the first few weeks back in Minnesota bedridden.

Fast-forwarding to summer, and I was working an Internship job in Minneapolis when I applied for consideration of an MTA Scholarship award. Word came down that classes were going to be fully online (at the full cost, of course), and I decided that spending the year back up in the Duluth area even with Mom & Dad for landlords still beat being locked down in a tiny city apartment on a virtually empty campus. The cooking and meals definitely improved once home, especially with venison, bear, and fish being consumed more often than the regular college students’ diet of frozen pizzas.

As annoying, strange, and uncomfortable as the pandemic had made life, it also came with unexpected blessings. In the fall, I got the great news about receiving this Scholarship and to topping things off by bear hunting for the first time in years alongside my brothers.
Furthermore, I got to spend more time outside and in the deer stand than I had for many years as a full-time college student.

I also got reacquainted with the trapline, having a great time pursuing bobcats and running lines.
I was quickly refamiliarized with the wisdom that catching always beats checking.
Running bobcat sets, driving old dirt roads at dawn (okay, well, perhaps starting at dawn was a bit of an exaggeration- I am still a college kid after all) brought a peace, and excitement back that I hadn't felt for a long time.  
Although the Twin Cities will be my residence for the immediate future as I'm moving back down to begin working full time in my career field after graduation, COVID gave me a chance to appreciate and remember my roots.
Rather than just writing about “the impact of trapping and the value of consumptive wildlife activities to modern societies” I was once again living it.
I'm very much counting my blessings for those experiences.
Thank you MTA for continuing to provide these scholarships for young men and women across
Minnesota. I very much appreciate the honor of having been selected as a recipient.
These funds have helped me navigate my final year avoiding additional debt.
You helped to make that all possible.

- Ian Johnson  Duluth MN
MTA SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Essay by Bridget Bazile

1. Your past experiences: In autobiographical form tell us about yourself with particular emphasis on those formal and informal learning experiences which have had the most impact on choosing the career field that you have.
I grew up surrounded by animals, so I imagine this was where my desire to become a veterinarian ultimately started. There was always a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in my house to take care of, and I spent a good amount of my time over at my grandparent’s hobby farm surrounded by horses, chickens, guinea hens, and multiple barn cats to care for. No matter what the job was, I always enjoyed working with the animals. As I grew older, the fun at my grandparent’s farm began to be tempered with work, as I officially started working there during the summers with a large part of my responsibilities revolving around the care of the animals. After my sophomore year of high school, I also picked up a job at a local dairy farm as a milker, working throughout the year as my schedule permits. I found that working with the cows was something different than what I was used too, but it was a good change. I’m able to shadow the veterinarian when they come out to the farm for herd checks once in awhile and I have found that I don’t mind working with cows either. Throughout high school I was also involved in the agriculture classroom as much as possible, particularly through FFA, which allowed me to broaden my animal experiences. These, along with the experiences I have gained thorough animal science classes I have already taken at UW- River Falls all have come together to help me choose the career path I am on and to continually solidify my decision that I wish to work in the agriculture industry as a large animal veterinarian.

2. The present: Why did you choose this particular field of study?
As I stated before, animals have always been, and still are, a big part of my life. I wanted to find a job where I could continue to work with animals, particularly the large, farm-type ones that were such a big part of my childhood. Becoming a veterinarian seemed a logical way to achieve this and be able to do something that I love.

3. The future: Identify at least three long-term goals and three short-term goals. Based on this information, where do you ideally see yourself in five years?
In the short-term, one of my goals is to complete a majority of the classes required to apply to veterinary school by the end of my sophomore year, which would allow me to matriculate a year early into veterinary school and still receive a bachelor’s degree from UW- River Falls after my first year of veterinary school. Another short-term goal of mine is to also complete the requirements to graduate from the honors program at River Falls, which will take some careful planning on my part if I’m to enter into veterinary school after my junior year, but I’m confident I can make this a possibility. Lastly, I hope to keep offsetting the cost of college with scholarships and by keeping my current jobs. I’ve been able to save a significant amount of money with scholarships so far, and I plan to continue to apply for and hopefully receive as many scholarships as possible to keep my cost of attending college to a minimum. This, combined with the money I can earn and save from working should help me to achieve this and help me avoid taking loans out too early.

Long-term, one of my goals is to graduate with a veterinary degree by the time I’m 25, which is very doable with my present situation. I also plan to achieve high grades and GPA while in college, preferably staying somewhere in “A” range. Finally, my biggest long-term goal is to gain employment close to my hometown after finishing my final rotation, which shouldn’t be too hard considering that I live in a really rural area. My long-term goals really lead into the answer of where I see myself in 5 years. If everything goes according to plan, I will be entering into my last year of veterinary school and finishing up my last set of rotations. I will begin to search for employment opportunities close to my hometown and will be getting ready to begin making a life for myself as a new and fully licensed large animal veterinarian.

4. What is YOUR definition of conservation (not Webster’s etc.), and why is it in important to conserve and manage wildlife and environment?
Conservation to me is managing and preserving something in the best and most sustainable way. It is important to conserve both wildlife and our environment because we are all intrinsically connected. Everything has its place in this world and helps other species and organisms survive. Oftentimes, if a species isn’t properly regulated and conserved, other living beings suffer because of it. If we as humans choose not to conserve and manage our wildlife, and by extension our environment, we are ultimately destroying ourselves and our ability to survive in this world.

5. What does a consumptive wildlife activity (such as trapping) ultimately contribute to modern society?
I grew up in an extremely active trapping family. Some of my earliest memories are of going trapping with my dad and sitting in on trappers education classes that my parents were teaching with my uncle. Our family vacations were planned around trapping conventions and other events and I grew up helping with Wisconsin’s state convention every year, going so far as to receive the volunteer of the year award in 2017. Growing up with a trapping lifestyle, I was given so many things. I have a very loving “trapping family” that is as close as my real one-even if we only see each other a couple times a year, I know the value of hard work and persistence, and most importantly I was raised to see the benefits of trapping and not the stigmatized version that much of the generalized public believes. Trapping, along with hunting, fishing, and any other type of management practices all have their benefits to modern society. These types of practices help prevent overpopulation in areas where a species’ growth may be getting out of hand and damaging the ecosystem. It also provides society with nuisance control by keeping sick, weak, or just plain nuisance animals from interfering with domestic animals, crops, and other aspects of daily life. Lastly, these types of activities help to stimulate the economy and provide jobs for all those involved in the process, whether it is the person selling the means to do this, the consumer of these services, the provider of the service, or those who are making a living of the by-products of trapping, hunting, and the like.

BRIDGET'S THANK YOU LETTER

Dear MN  Trappers Association,
 
Thank you again for awarding me a scholarship to help with my schooling at University of Wisconsin- River Falls. I’m currently a sophomore at UWRF and like last year, I’m pursuing an animal science degree with an equine and pre-veterinary emphasis. If things keep going at the pace they currently are, I will be able to apply to vet school this summer and graduate either in fall of 2021 or spring of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science degree from UWRF. The goal then is to be attending a vet school in fall of 2022, pursuing a Masters in Veterinary Medicine to hopefully become a large animal veterinarian someday. The scholarship you awarded me last year was put to good use in helping me to achieve this, and this year’s will be a tremendous help in continuing this dream of mine, especially in times like these. Again, thank you so much for awarding me this scholarship; I cannot begin to explain how much this means to me.

Thank you,
- Bridget Bazile
 

©️ Copyright 2021 MN Trappers Assn. All rights reserved.
©️ Copyright 2019 MN Trappers Assn. All rights reserved.
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