Wildlife Vocalizations: Kaitlin Will

Will surveys wetlands in a large, mature bald cypress stand around the Lufkin, Texas. Credit: Kaitlin Will

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

Many people plan out their lives—what they think should happen and when. I had done the same growing up and had it all planned out neatly in front of me. However, life is still moving forward while you’re busy making plans.

Some of those things I planned have happened; some of those have not yet. The biggest professional lesson I have learned over the years is adaptability. It has been a difficult lesson to learn, but yet so important in this field. My passion for the environment and wildlife has always fueled me forward, but the addition of learning to adapt has helped me become a true young professional.

This adaption started at the end of high school when college acceptance letters came in. I knew by that point I wanted to go to Texas A&M University and had it all planned out. I was rejected for freshman year admissions and was offered a program to go to a sister school for a year and then transfer to the main campus.

At first I was so upset. It felt like I had failed because that was where I had already planned to go. I thought about the choices, since things hadn’t gone according to my original plan, and decided to take them up on the offer of attending a sister school first. It turned out to be a wonderful freshman year, and I was accepted without a problem to the main Texas A&M campus sophomore year. It was not what I planned, but was the first adaption I had to understand in order to become the biologist I wanted to be.

Will surveys “Bomer Island,” a small, dredged cut out of the Neches River South of Beaumont, Texas. Credit: Kaitlin Will

Once I got through college and received my AWB certification, I was ready to start my career. Unfortunately, the month before I graduated, a state-wide hiring freeze was declared and I couldn’t find a job for months. I had to do odd jobs and volunteer fieldwork while dealing with rejections from job applications.

Finally, I accepted a job offer with a nature preserve. I stayed for two years, but didn’t feel like I was making the difference I had planned to do. I had to adapt to the idea that, yet again, I’d have to go back to the world of applications and rejection until my next opportunity arose.

Last year, I accepted a position as an environmental scientist with a consultant company. It was not at all what I imagined I’d be doing. The job is fast-paced, constantly changing with many unknown variables, and requires plenty of travel. Yet, my continued learning of adaption has helped me take it all with stride and, as a part of a diverse team of scientists, I learn every day. It has opened my eyes to an entirely different way to pursue my passion and do my part for this beautiful place we call home. Adaption is never easy, but I believe it is a true necessity for our love of wildlife.

Learn more about Wildlife Vocalizations, and read other contributions.

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