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FNR Field Report: Summer Brown

Students from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources took their classroom knowledge to the field for summer internships and paid positions across the country, gaining valuable experience, hands-on training and career guidance. The FNR Field Reports series will offer updates from those individuals as summer positions and experiences draw to a close.Summer Brown at a prescribed burn

Senior wildlife major Summer Brown was a student employee of Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources, working at various Purdue research properties with farm manager Brian Beheler and forester Don Carlson.

In that role, Brown assisted with the management of the Purdue properties, including herbicide application, felling trees, inventories, brush saw work to control invasives, pheasant and quail surveys, clearing trails, prescribed fires and tree planting. Brown did work at Darlington Woods, the Doak property, Hermann Reserve, Lugar FarmMartell Forest, McCormick Woods, Miller Woodlands, Nelson-Stokes-Lewman, Pinney Purdue Ag Center, the Purdue Wildlife Area, the Southern Indiana Purdue Ag Center (SIPAC) and Stephens Forest.

“I learned how to manage variety of wildlife habitats,” Brown said. “I learned how to consider the ecosystem, but also the public views. What stood out to me is how well everyone worked together. The managers from all of the different properties were all great to work with and seemed excited to teach the interns.”

Summer Brown on a tractor planting trees The position kept the Columbus, Ind., native on her toes, but allowed her to apply classroom knowledge in a real-world setting.

“My favorite part of the job was that I never knew what I would be doing that day,” Brown recalled. “It was always something new, whether it was planting a field or putting up fence for the forestry goats. I have been able to apply knowledge from almost all of my FNR courses. I have utilized knowledge from my species ID courses and my habitat management and techniques course for a few examples.”

While she had the knowledge from class and help from property managers, Brown, who also has a minor in law and society and is part of the Honors College, learned that forest management is much harder in practice than in theory.

“I think the most challenging part was applying the management we learned to different situations,” Brown recalled. “Knowing how to do the management practices is the easy part but applying them is harder to consider.”

Brown shared her knowledge about forest management at the Wednesdays in the Wild event in July, talking about the abundance of cucumber magnolia in a small plot on the Stephens Forest property in Delphi, Indiana. 

Summer Brown at the FNR Poster CompetitionThe summer position was not Brown’s first foray into real-world natural resources work. She earned first place in the undergraduate research portion of the FNR Poster Contest in Spring 2022 for her poster, “Effect of density on growth rates of captive Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis)”, co-authored by Dr. Rod Williams, Purdue Extension wildlife specialist/Help the Hellbender program coordinator Nick Burgmeier and hellbender husbandry coordinator Shelby Royal.

Brown, who received the Claude C. Gladden Memorial Scholarship which is bestowed on the basis Summer Brown at a hellbender release in the Blue Riverof academic achievement and professional potential at the 2022 FNR Awards Banquet, said her summer working with Purdue FNR staff confirmed her future plans.

“This position solidified that I love working in the conservation field,” Brown said. “I love the research, extension and field work parts of conservation. My ideal career would be somewhere I could manage wildlife habitat, while also continuing research.”

From upper left: Summer Brown took this photo at a prescribed burn this summer; Summer Brown at Springfest with the Hellbender educational display; Summer Brown doing turtle trapping at Summer Practicum; Summer Brown with her FNR coworkers at the Wednesdays in the Wild educational event ; Summer Brown tagging birds at Summer Practicum. From upper left: Summer Brown took this photo at a prescribed burn this summer; Summer Brown at Spring Fest with the Hellbender educational display; Summer Brown doing turtle trapping at Summer Practicum; Summer Brown with her FNR colleagues at the Wednesdays in the Wild educational event; Summer Brown tagging birds at Summer Practicum.

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