“I think Florida would be the most tricky weather you could have to go out as a biologist and do research,” reflects student Timothy Hobbs, after seeing a presentation from a local wildlife biologist in the Introducing Biology class offered at the South Florida State College’s Lake Placid campus. Fellow classmate, Sarah Moretto offers, “It was very interesting. Not my field of work, but definitely cool to learn about.” The presenter, Archbold Biological Station’s Emily Angell, had just given a slideshow presentation on her career as a biologist, highlighting her work in Florida and other sites throughout North America. Emily, along with her husband, Archbold’s Education Coordinator Dustin Angell, both visited the class this spring at the invitation of one of the college’s newest professors, Amy Bohan.
“I was excited to host Dustin and Emily as guest speakers, so that my students could learn more about all that Archbold offers,” explains Bohan, whose own history with the organization began in elementary school. “I first learned about Archbold years ago through school field trips and by attending their summer camps.” Bohan followed her interest in science to Auburn University in Alabama, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Science and graduated in 2011 with a Master’s Degree in Animal Sciences. She is currently working towards a PhD.
Archbold’s Executive Director remembers the younger Amy fondly, “I always enjoyed having Amy and her sister over to the Station to visit my daughter Alex in middle and high school. She was always interested and a conscientious student. I couldn’t be more pleased that she has returned to Highlands County and is teaching science at the State College.”
Emily’s class visit included a slideshow presentation and hands-on materials. She says, “I wanted the students to know what it’s like to be a wildlife biologist and what kind of work we do.” She shared stories about her life as a biologist and brought equipment from her current work with Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at the Avon Park Air Force Range. She demonstrated how tree climbing gear works to reach woodpecker tree cavities, and gave students the opportunity to handle an artificial woodpecker cavity and touch a real example of a natural woodpecker cavity in a display piece of longleaf pine.
“I’ve always been passionate about animals. Especially conservation,” says student Kristal Shands, who attends classes at the college’s Avon Park campus, but drove down to Lake Placid especially to hear Emily’s talk. Kristen, who is considering a career in wildlife biology, says, “I thought it was really educational and persuasive, too.” She believes Emily’s research with endangered woodpeckers is important and particularly enjoyed hearing about her work with nestling woodpeckers.
During Dustin’s visit to the Introducing Biology class, he focused on Archbold’s strategic priorities. “All our work falls into strategies to advance science, stewardship, and sustainability in Florida. These include priorities like protecting biodiversity, anticipating climate change, guiding agricultural land management, and teaching about our research. I wanted to give the students more context for what Archbold researchers are doing. Science isn’t about lone geniuses making discoveries, but about dedicated people working together to build knowledge and find solutions to problems. In our case, the environmental challenges facing Florida’s future.”
Amy Bohan started as an adjunct professor last August and became a full-time faculty member at South Florida State College in January and plans to continue her association with Archbold. “We were so grateful to have such wonderful speakers come to our class and inform the students about the various opportunities Archbold has to offer. The students enjoyed seeing multiple ways of how science is not only a potential career, but also used in everyday life.”
Emily is already signed up to present at Amy’s Introduction to Biology course this summer, although Dustin won’t be available. “I can’t make it,” he says apologetically, “but it’s for a good reason, because I will be running Archbold’s Ecology Summer Camp; the same one Amy attended when she was a young girl. I love that Amy was a camper here, and I hope that one of the children this summer will someday invite Emily and I to speak to their own college class one day.”