A Passion For Conservation Led Gabby Landry to NC State

Gabby Landry is a senior majoring in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology at the NC State College of Natural Resources. She is an inaugural member of the James Buzzard Leadership Development Program. The program is designed to build leadership skills through a variety of hands-on experiences with current leaders in a variety of fields.

To fund her trip to Ecuador over spring break, Landry received the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources’ Study Abroad Scholarship. She is the founding president of the Ornithology Club at NC State and serves as activities coordinator for the Leopold Wildlife Club, the NC State chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Landry has also been very busy with volunteer opportunities and recently volunteered with the¬†Carolina Wetlands Association, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge’s “turtle patrol” and with the¬†Neuse River Waterdog monitoring program for doctoral student Eric Teitsworth’s¬†Ph.D. project.

We recently asked Landry about her decision to study fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology at the College of Natural Resources and her goals for the future. Check out the Q&A below to learn more. 

Why did you choose to study fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology?

Like many people who chose this field, I have wanted to work with animals from a young age. It started when I became one of “those wolf kids” with an obsession over all things canine. I declared I would become a wolf biologist since I found the ecology behind these large carnivores fascinating, even at the young age of 10. I am no longer one of those wolf¬†kids, but my passion has¬†expanded to ecology as a whole. I graduated high school during COVID-19 and enrolled in my local Finger Lakes Community College, which had an environmental science program. There, I gained mentors that really let me embrace the naturalist and conservationist passion I had. My parents raised me to be inclusive and understanding of the differences we as humans have. Though not human, the interconnectedness and strangeness of the world’s¬†ecological¬†communities really appeals to my appreciation of things that are different.

The global mass extinction we face is another thing driving me to this field. As a society, our responsibility is to conserve the environment for the sake of the next generations of humans, plants and animals alike. If I am not a part of this conservation effort, I will not feel like I have lived a fulfilling life. 

What is your favorite memory or class from your time at NC State?

Chris Moorman’s Wildlife Habitat Management class has been my favorite. Though I would not be able to understand this class without the foundation given to me by some great past instructors, having a class where my ecological understanding can have a pointed focus on wildlife and plants has been one of the most valuable courses I have taken here at NC State. This class has an emphasis on the ecology and interconnectedness of the environmental factors that contribute to the success of wildlife, which is extremely thought-provoking.

What are your career goals?

In my career, I want to do something related to wetland conservation and restoration. Since I was born and raised near the shore of Lake Ontario, I have always lived near large lakes with wetlands on the margin, and some of my favorite outdoor memories come from these wetlands. Wetland management is of rising need as the United States alone has lost over 50% of its wetlands. Wetland quality and abundance is of great importance to our water bodies, and I feel like my heart lies in the field of wetland conservation. Waterbirds are also one of my greatest passions, and the well-being of my beloved waterbirds is highly dependent on wetlands.

How has the College of Natural Resources prepared you for your future?

The sheer amount of experiences I have been exposed to as a student in the College of Natural Resources has been extremely valuable for my future. Not only is the curriculum in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources excellent, but the people I have met and the opportunities they have given me have been some of the greatest I could imagine getting out of a college experience.

From joining and leading club events to sitting at a table surrounded by people I know in Jordan Hall’s Natural Resources Library, I have learned a lot about leadership, interpersonal skills, as well as technical skills. One of the best parts about the College of Natural Resources is the amount of naturalists I have met who are willing to go outside to search for the strange and obscure species of plants and animals that occur here in North Carolina. Some of my best friendships have been formed through looking for critters with people.

What advice would you give to students entering your major?

I have seen a lot of new students who seem quiet and reserved. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. I, too, relish my time alone. My recommendation for new students is to make that leap and start saying “hey” in the library to those people you see frequently in club meetings and classes. It is always likely that this greeting can turn into a full-on friendship. If you are not in a club or organization yet, join one. Most people in clubs are there for the sake of gaining community here at NC State, and you will be a welcome addition to most.

Tell us about something you are passionate about outside of your academic studies.

Outside of academics, I am passionate about hiking, photography, plants and birds. It is true that a lot of this overlaps with my studies, but since I am pursuing what I love, I gain energy from doing things outside. Some other miscellaneous things I enjoy doing are crafts, caring for my fish tank and trivia with friends.

This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.