Summer Experiences 2010

Each summer, ACU’s A&E students participate in research projects, internships, mission trips and summer jobs that give them valuable experience in their career areas of interest. Here are a few of their stories from Summer 2010:

Kyle Ferrell (’10)
Agribusiness major from Weatherford, Texas

Last summer I worked outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as the head wrangler for a dude ranch in the Bridger Teton National Forest. I managed the healthy use of the ranch’s 65 horses, and oversaw a crew of five wranglers who were responsible for taking out the ranch’s guests on half-day and all-day trail rides. My primary tasks were teaching equine safety and riding techniques to guests, as well as coordinating overall barn operations and riding programs. Through this experience I learned a lot about time management, guest relations, the general vacation/service industry as well as important human resource management skills. I would tell students that if you are interested in this type of job or the outfitting business, to get in touch with the National Dude Ranchers’ Association. This organization has a great amount of opportunities for young people as well as many scholarship opportunities. My favorite part of my summer was bringing in the herd every morning from mountain pastures and watching the sun rise on crisp and cool mountain mornings, as well as seeing beginner riders improve their abilities over the course of their stay.

Tiffany Lutz (’11)
Animal science/pre-veterinary major from Zelienople, Pennsylvania

I spent last summer in Abilene, Texas, beginning research with Dr. Florah Mhlanga on the utilization of tropical legumes to improve goat production. Most of the summer was spent working with Spencer Fox to grow four types of legumes. Our research has continued into this semester, as I feed the legumes to 24 weaned goats.

This research is teaching me a lot about animal nutrition, and how goats utilize different components of a plant – topics related to my degree. More so I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the effort and dedication it takes to conduct research after having to go out every day and feed goats. It has made me more aware of the opportunities available and what I am capable of doing. I haven’t learned exactly career I should pursue, but I feel that God has been opening my eyes to a lot of the possibilities that are out there.

I strongly advise other students to do a research project. Research is a good chance to receive one-on-one mentoring from a professor and to learn more about your field and about what you can handle. Research involves difficulties and frustrations at times, but overall it provides a very good experience. I enjoyed the hands-on experience and the opportunity to apply what I have learned.

Spencer Fox (’11)
Environmental science major from Houston, Texas

Last summer I worked on a research project at the ACU's Rhoden farm in Abilene. 

As part of an agronomy study, I have been managing a plot of land where three types of legumes (beans) are growing. We harvested all of the plants after 60 days so that my research partner would be able to do a feeding trial with goats. This project has taught me many different strategies for working in a team and for conducting research, as well as boosting my résumé. Next semester we will take our findings to a national competition in Corpus Christi.

I recommend that my fellow students do similar research projects to give them an inside look at the career fields they intend to enter.

Derek Zimmerman (’10)
Environmental science major from Round Rock, Texas

Last summer I worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on the White Oak Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Northeast Texas. The WMA is 25,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods along the White Oak Creek and Sulphur River, managed for native plants and wildlife. It is land open to the public for hunting, hiking, horseback riding, fishing and wildlife viewing. 

I managed a 500-acre wetland system, also called a moist soil unit. The wetlands are managed primarily for waterfowl, such as the wood duck and other migratory birds. However, the moist soil unit also has a positively substantial impact on deer and furbearers, including the protected river otter. 

My job duties included maintaining and repairing wetland levees; installing culverts in washed-out ditches and bridges; summer vegetation maintenance like shredding, herbicide application, dozer work, disking and seedbed preparation; nuisance beaver control; plant population sampling and analysis; preparing and completing the summer prescribed burning program; and executing deer spotlight counts and calculating a doe/fawn and buck/doe ratio.

My ultimate career goal is to own my own outfitting service to provide lodging and guided hunting & fishing trips. This summer job helped me in pursuing my goal by providing valuable experience in operating and maintaining equipment, in plant identification, in the wildlife value of the flora and fauna of the bottomland hardwoods of east Texas, and in learning the wetland management calendar and flood/drain timing to ensure optimal wildlife production and woody species control.

I would highly encourage students interested in the environment and wildlife management to find work that allows you to be in the field, gaining equipment experience and studying what's out there and how they can improve it.

My favorite part of the summer was driving through the wetlands early each morning. I always saw something new: raccoons leaping over the trail from tree line to tree line, deer leaping from the levies splashing into the marshy wetland cells, hundreds of wood ducks flying from their feeding areas to a wooded slough, fawns bouncing through meadows of smartweed, or a family of river otters eating crawfish in the wetland canal.

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