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Each month, the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources  highlights a current student who represent the diverse and involved student population within the program. This month, September, the spotlight focuses on, William Casola.

Name: William Casola
Major: Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology
Concentration: Conservation Biology
Year: Senior (Class of 2018)
Hometown: Apex, NC
1. What lead you to select your major at NC State?
Coming out of high school I was a little lost as to which career path I wanted to pursue. I knew I had an interest in wildlife/ecology and I really enjoyed spending time in the outdoors. After a little research I discovered the Fisheries & Wildlife program at NC State. I wasn’t sold on State until I came to campus for a department meet and greet event. There I was introduced to our great faculty who explained some of the awesome research taking place in our department and the opportunities that students in our program have access to. After comparing this program to a few others in the southeast it was clear NC State was the best fit for me.
2. What is your favorite aspect about your program?
My favorite aspect of the Fish & Wildlife program has to be the small community feel within a large university. I love being able to walk into any of my classes and already know a large portion of the students, while also having access to all the resources of a large university. We also get to know our professors really well between having them in class, and through experiences such as FWCB Summer Camp and Leopold Wildlife Conclave.
3. What has been your favorite course at NC State?
My favorite course at NC State is FOR 339 Dendrology – It’s a tough course but the material is invaluable.
4.  Tell us about your hands-on experience and will this experience prepare you for your future career?
This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to work on the Pennsylvania Deer-Forest Study at Penn State. This is a study looking into the impacts of deer on vegetation communities and forest regeneration throughout central PA. I worked on the vegetation monitoring crew and our primary job was quantifying deer impacts on vegetation. Our typical day involved hiking to a number of off-trail plots throughout the 300,000 acre study area and measuring everything from large oak trees, all the way down to tiny seedlings with only cotyledons visible. This experience will be valuable to me in the future because I hope to go to graduate school and research the interactions between wildlife and their habitats. This experience provided me with an enormous amount of plant ID skills & natural history knowledge, as well as exposure to a variety of sampling techniques.
5. What is something you wish someone had told you when you were a freshman?
A few things I wish someone would have told me as a freshman would be to go outside your comfort zone, meet juniors & seniors within your major and get involved. I have had amazing experiences with the Leopold Wildlife Club and the FWCB program. My only regret is not meeting more people and not taking full advantage of the amazing opportunities sooner.
6. What is your favorite thing to do outside of the classroom?
My favorite things to do outside the classroom all revolve around being outdoors. I really enjoy camping and hiking as well as fishing. I am also a huge fan of NC State athletics and I try not to miss our football & basketball games.