Name: Hannah Warner
Major at GC: Biology
Why did you choose Georgia College?
When I began applying to colleges, Georgia College was my number one choice. I was cautiously hopeful and when I got my acceptance letter, there was no question that Milledgeville was where I would spend the next few years of my life. Spring Orientation only reinforced this. I was initially hooked by the look and feel of the campus - I loved the traditional architecture and of course the front campus. As I met students and teachers, I felt that it was an environment in which I could grow and thrive.
Did you have a favorite professor or class?
Dr. France and Dr. Manoylov truly guided me to where I am today, both professionally and personally. Dr. France’s BIO 1108 class inspired me to pursue a degree in biology. It was her continued encouragement and support that helped me through my years at Georgia College. Dr. Manoylov’s ecology and senior capstone class narrowed my focus and future career path. They both encouraged me to pursue a career centered on education, either traditional or unconventional. While I am not a teacher, my career has been shaped by my desire to educate and advocate for the environment. They helped me identify that strength and cultivate that skill by providing me excellent examples of what an outstanding educator should be.
When you lived on a private island off of Georgia’s coast, what was the hardest part about your job? What kind of animals were on the island that you didn’t expect to be working with?
The island was like a different world – it was like living out a scene in Jurassic Park. You had to take a boat to get there and a boat to leave. A boat came in the morning and left in the afternoon, carrying all but a few of us who remained on the island permanently or semi-permanently. The island was the size of Manhattan and only a small portion of it was developed for a few houses meant for staff. Though it could be isolating at times, some of my very best friendships have grown out of the experience. Grocery shopping was usually an overnight affair, unless you caught an unscheduled boat, which was very rare. It was wild in absolutely all senses of the word! It was by far the most amazing place I have ever been, and I soaked up every minute of my stay. I had miles of beaches to myself; I made a fort in a giant oak tree just off the beach, and had lemurs wake me up jumping on the roof of my house.
The ‘island vet,’ Dr. Terry Norton of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, came every Wednesday for weekly checkups of the various animals housed on the island. Wednesdays were always exciting and Dr. Norton was always willing to teach us new things while he worked his extremely packed schedule. I was able to sit in on a diamondback rattlesnake surgery, a sea turtle necropsy, several ring-tailed lemur vasectomies, and treatment of an infected cask (bill) of a Great Asian Hornbill.
What were some of the perks of being an interpretive ranger for Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona? Are there any best kept secret spots that visitors should check out while they are there?
Every day presented new challenges and learning opportunities, and I was lucky to work with some very skilled and intelligent people that shared their wealth of knowledge with me. I learned skills I never thought I would need - from black-smithing and iron forging, orienteering, search and rescue, blackpowder weapons demos, and Civil War reenactments - just to name a few. It made for some very interesting additions to my resume.
Two spots captivated me during my time at the park – iron mines on Iron Hill trail, and an old homestead site on Homestead Trail. If you look at a topographic map of Iron Hill trail, you can see the iron mines and how to get to them. The iron mines are huge pits in the 'mountain' where they dug out iron ore. You can walk into them and it is very serene when you realize you are essentially standing in the middle of a mountain. They were ‘open pit’, so you’re not actually going into a mining tunnel. The history in the area is rich, and I became interested in the earlier residents prior to the lake that worked in these mines. There are several homestead sites scattered in the woods around Homestead trail. I became interested in one particular site in which a chimney still stood, and can be seen from the trail. I tried to figure out the name of the property owner, but kept finding myself at a dead end. I still haven’t, but it’s on my list of things to do.
In January 2018, you became the Headwaters Outreach Coordinator for the organization Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. What is the mission of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and what is the best part about your career so far?
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s mission is to advocate and secure the protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River along with its tributaries and watershed, in order to restore and preserve their ecological health for the people and wildlife that depend on the river system. My role is to engage the communities in the headwaters region (Buford Dam and above), connect them with the river and our work and mission. I find myself among some of the sharpest people I have ever met, and it is truly a treat to consider myself a colleague. I would say the best part of my career is knowing that in some small way, I am working to make my small corner of the Earth a little bit better. I am part of an even larger movement to make significant changes. We are the voice for something that is voiceless.
How has your education at Georgia College helped you become who you are today?
It spring boarded me into a fantastic career path that I would not have pursued otherwise. I gained the skills and the knowledge to be competitive in the work force, and made connections that helped me get to where I am today. It honed my curiosity into a passion, and my passion into a career.
Being out in nature seems to be your passion. Where do you see yourself at 5 years from now?
Definitely out in nature in some capacity! Ideally I would be paddling down a pristine Chattahoochee River with no trash or sediment, no pollution, no threats. Realistically, I will be working with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to protect and advocate for our Chattahoochee and enjoying all of the wonderful natural resources Georgia has to offer.
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