grace hummel

Wildlife Vocalizations: Grace Hummell

Wildlife Vocalizations is a collection of short personal perspectives from people in the field of wildlife sciences.

In second grade, we had an endangered animal project, and I was assigned the North American beaver (Castor canadensis)—which is not actually endangered but we will let it slide.

I was captivated by the whole project and the study of wild animals. I remember asking my dad to drive me around to all the large rivers just so I could see a beaver in the wild. In second grade, I discovered my dream was to work with wildlife.

Hummell holds an eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis). In the summer months, Hummell volunteers with bat surveys in D.C.
Credit: Courtesy of Grace Hummell

In second grade, I also found one of my greatest challenges in life. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. I remember standing in the office while they told my mother the results and said that an education past high school would not be an option for me. “She won’t be able to keep up.” “It’s probably too hard for her learning level.” “She can’t do it.”

Besides trying to fit into an education system that wasn’t built for learning differently, the consistent doubt and the negativity from my peers and teachers was just another obstacle to overcome. If I am honest, there were plenty of times where I did want to give up.

Hummell and Mullinax in the field in some historic parts of Maryland. They were working on a project looking at camera data for density of wildlife species.
Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Mullinax

However, as I got older, I started to understand what drives my passion and the excitement I feel when I get to learn something new. I never want my dreams to be stifled just because my brain processes the world in a different way. With a lot of hard work, and with a lot of love from family, I am now in the first year of my PhD concentrating in spatial wildlife ecology. For the first time in my life, I am finally not afraid of the challenges to come. I am proud that my brain works differently.

Learn more about Wildlife Vocalizations, and read other contributions.

Submit your story for Wildlife Vocalizations or nominate your peers and colleagues to encourage them to share their story.

For questions, please contact Jamila Blake.

Header Image: Hummell with a black bear (Ursus americanus) cub. Hummel’s PhD advisor, Jennifer M. Mullinax, is part of multiple studies involving bear movements. Credit: Courtesy of Grace Hummel