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Student Success

Five Questions with Campus As A Classroom Intern Jared Spurlin

Jared Spurlin

Jared Spurlin, a senior studying fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State, is one of six students in the College of Natural Resources to be selected for the 2022-23 cohort of the Campus As A Classroom program.

For the Campus As A Classroom program, coordinated by the NC State Sustainability Office, students interns will be working on a variety of projects that serve to advance sustainability at NC State. Spurlin will be designing and implementing a small space design to preserve the breeding habitat of a large colony of native, ground-nesting bees.

We recently spoke with Spurlin about his experience in the Campus As A Classroom program and how the College of Natural Resources has helped prepare him for the internship. Check out the Q&A below to learn more.

What kinds of things will you be doing during your internship?

This internship is granting me the opportunity to help manage and study a native population of around 2,500 mining bees (Andrena barbara) located outside the Varsity Research Building. Andrena barbara remain underground in their nests for the majority of the year, only emerging for a couple of months in the early spring to feed and reproduce. Our job is to design and implement the ideal foraging landscape for the bees to enjoy when they emerge in February.

We also plan on studying the bees’ movements and foraging preferences during their emergent period using plant and pollen surveys. Using this data, we could improve their habitat for the years to come, as well as provide a guide for replicating our ideal habitat which could be implemented around campus or elsewhere. There isn’t much scientific literature available for Andrena barbara and hopefully our study can help shed some light on these local, secretive bees.

How did you find out about Campus As A Classroom and why were you interested in it?

I found out about Campus As A Classroom through a friend at my previous internship at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She encouraged me to apply, and being a bee lover, I jumped on the opportunity. Insects and bees in particular are some of the most important animals on Earth, however they are often overlooked, especially if they live the majority of their lives underground such as Andrena barbara. When offered the opportunity to study and support these native bees, I had to accept.   

In what ways did the College of Natural Resources prepare you for this internship?

The College of Natural Resources has provided me so much over the past few years and has kept me steady throughout my college career. The advisors and professors are some of the best and brightest at NC State, and the students themselves are some of the most dedicated because their focus is on literally saving the world’s inhabitants and the world itself. All of these people, from the professors to the students, are more than happy to help you in any way, and this support system is crucial for any student to feel accepted and reinforced. The College of Natural Resources has also provided me with plenty of professional opportunities, from clubs, to Engaging Leaders, to both of my internships.  

What are your long-term goals and how does this internship factor in?

My long-term goal is to become a wildlife biologist studying various species around the country and globe. I feel that we owe our world and its animal inhabitants the diligence to study them, appreciate them and ensure their survival. This internship offers me directly that, the opportunity to study and protect one of NC State’s very own native inhabitants. Since we are designing this study from scratch, I could transfer what I learn about habitat control and study design with Andrena barbara to other insects or non-insect species. This internship is helping to kickstart my scientific ecological career and grant me the opportunity to truly make a difference.  

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while at NC State?

I’ve learned many things at NC State, academically and personally. I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned, which I’m still working on, is how to manage my time effectively. You could be the best student at NC State with the highest GPA, living at the library and studying all the time, but that’s how you get burnt out, lose passion for your studies, or even lose yourself personally from the stress.

It’s crucial, especially in the hectic world we live in today, to manage your time effectively to provide yourself the opportunity to relax or explore other passions or hobbies. When we graduate, there will most likely be no more grades, tests or summer breaks. It’s important that while you’re at NC State, you develop the drive, skills and relaxation techniques to benefit you in the long life to come.