Written by Bri Hoffman
I, like many young adults, began my college path with the mindset that I wanted to be a medical doctor. I had always loved science and I knew I wanted to help the world, so I thought medicine was the correct path for me. However, I very quickly learned that maybe, I was meant to do something else. After spending months indoors during the pandemic and getting a glimpse into the devastation and sadness that can surround a medical career, I began to rethink my future. I realized that I wanted to do something that would benefit the world but also benefit my mental health. This realization arose through taking an invertebrate zoology class, in which I started to see how amazing our world truly is and how much there is to discover. It started off small, with going outside to complete labs. I then found myself going outside more and more, exploring different places, and I no longer felt as if I was doing this as part of a class- I genuinely wanted to be outside and learning about the invertebrates that make our world possible. Of all the little creatures, I developed a strong admiration for caterpillars- they come in many shapes and sizes- and they metamorphosize into something completely unlike their larval form. From big, small, spiky, shiny; each caterpillar is unique. However, some of these creatures are in critical danger of becoming extinct. I took a chance in applying for a field technician position with the Haddad Lab to study the last remaining population of the St. Francis’ Satyr Butterfly at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the position and will begin working in May. I never could have imagined that I would be doing this type of research. However, it was the time I spent outside exploring the trails of Pennsylvania and learning about invertebrates that led me to a new passion. If, like me, you are not sure where to go or what to do- go outside. Even if it is just for a walk around campus or your own backyard- being outside surrounded by fresh air provides both physical and mental clarity. Maybe you too will discover a new passion!