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Nadia Gray: Growing up, I was always one of those kids who loved animals and playing in the dirt –I just never had any idea that you could make a career out of that. Participating in the salamander survey practicum was so affirming because I didn’t know I would be so interested in conducting research until I came to SMSC. Even though we were out in the woods all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. looking for red-back salamanders, something about it just felt right. Sure, it was hard work, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. If you had asked me at the beginning of the semester what I wanted to do after college, I don’t think I would be able to answer your question. But as this semester is ending, I realize that conservation is the field I belong in, and I’m not ready for this part of my career path to end. Since being given the opportunity to network with conservationists, I’ve realized that there is no shortage of species that need saving in this world. I know it seems like there’s a lot of gloom and doom in the world right now, but just the idea that there are people in this world that help save animals for a living has helped me realize I’d like to be one of them someday.

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We offer hands-on conservation training in the latest research and field techniques at the Smithsonian’s endangered species facility in Front Royal, Virginia.

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Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation