UGA Graduate Student Encourages Involvement in Environmental Conservation Groups

Photo by: Carrie Jordan

Kyle Connelly received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries from West Virginia University. However, his undergraduate degree covered only half of his passion for environmental work and research. It failed to cover human interactions with their environment. 

Streams flowing below university buildings and of litter lining the streets after a football game illustrate human involvement with the environment. Yet, communities also ban together to join local conservation groups in order to preserve the habitat they share.

Connelly’s research for his conservation ecology and sustainable development master’s degree incorporates the important human elements and social interactions with the Earth. 

What is it about ecology and the environment that made you want to study it at such a high level?

I knew I wanted to do something that where I would be outside, I guess, you know, working and researching. And so my undergrad focused a lot on the biota, the animals and the fish and the habitats in which they exist. It neglected almost completely the human aspect of it.

Since most of the streams are out of sight, do you think this impacts the awareness for conservation here on campus among officials and administrators?

You’re always in a catchment base, and you’re always in a watershed and to uncover some of these streams and to make them more part of our campus or just Athens as a whole would probably do a lot to make people more aware of the environment in which they live.

So what could individual students do to contribute to conservation on campus? Like maybe what organizations or people could they talk to?

The Upper Oconee Watershed Network is a local NGO here in Athens and they do quarterly macro invertebrate so measuring the biotic community in the streams and water chemistry and biological sampling. There’s also Athens Audubon Society and… there’s frog and herpetology group too. I think that’s probably one of the coolest things that we can do as citizens is really be involved in building our knowledge base of the environments that our communities are built in and with.

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