Ag Journeys

“College is the time to try new things.”

Hunter Kauffman

Hometown: Berrysburg, PA

Major: Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Research: Ecosystem science

Good at: Photography, hiking, running, snake catching, owl training

“I tried engineering, and that’s how I figured out it wasn’t for me.”

Sometimes it’s about what you don’t want to do.

Hunter came to Penn State thinking he’d major in mechanical engineering. That all changed when he found out about the Wildlife and Fisheries Science major.

“Once I started that program I never looked back. I think the most valuable experiences you have are the ones that show you what you don’t want to do. That’s what steered me into the path I’m on today.”

“I’d never done a poster presentation before.”

The comfort zone is overrated.

With encouragement from his professor, Hunter entered the 2019 Undergraduate Research Exhibition. And his poster on “Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on Nesting Time and Fledging Success of Songbirds” won third place.

“I was a little nervous because I had never done a poster presentation before. But my professor, Julian Avery, helped me prepare. He has been an excellent mentor.”

“One thing I’ve noticed about faculty in the College of Ag Sciences: they’re always ready to help.”

“Paula Ferreri was my adviser, and she was fantastic. She’d always remember things about me. It was really nice to know there was a friendly face nearby.”

“I taught a male barn owl how to perch on a gloved hand.”

“Volunteering at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, I trained some of the birds, and I also helped build bird perches and raptor enclosures. It taught me a lot about animal training and conditioning.”

Catching snakes. It’s not for everyone, but . . .

Stress hormones in snakes are the focus of a long-term study.

Hunter was part of a team collecting and studying western garter snakes in California. They took blood samples to look at differences in combinations of stress hormones.

“I found a community not only in my major but through other clubs and organizations.”

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to volunteer.”

“Habitat for Humanity has a campus chapter, and I was in that chapter all four years at Penn State—I was executive director of the chapter during my senior year. That’s a place where I made a lot of connections.”

“I wanted an educational component in my degree.”

“I knew a lot of agricultural education majors, and I got involved in Penn State Teach Ag. At some point I want to go back to school and get a master’s and a teaching certification. But I want to work a little first, so I’m looking at PA DCNR park ranger jobs.”