Michael Mengak

Associate Professor - Wildlife Specialist; Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

B.S., M.S. 1982, Ph. D. Forestry and Wildlife


What attracted you to your chosen field?

The opportunity to work outdoors, with nature, with similar people. I sought the opportunity to study forest ecology, the animals and forest around them, and to teach others.

What do you like best about the field?

I like the relaxed atmosphere and relative freedom from job pressure that comes from setting my own goals, developing a strategy to meet them and being rewarded for doing so. I like the opportunity to continually learn new things and to work with very dedicated, intelligent, enthusiastic people.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

Finding the right job and colleagues who are supportive and share similar goals.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

The future is extremely bright. People want to learn about and protect wildlife, forests and nature in general. The career outlook is very good. As older professionals retire, there will be many opportunities for new biologists and ecologists to enter the field. There is always the need for more information and the ability to continually learn and teach others is not going to go away. Ever.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

Be curious. Ask why? Always. Learn as much math and science as possible. Learn to be a better writer. Learn to spell and compose sentences and paragraphs well. Learn to read for knowledge and pleasure. Read a lot. Then read some more. Read about science and nature and natural history and culture and anthropology. Travel to different parts of the country. Learn about different ecosystems - oceans, beach, forests, deserts, wetlands, lakes and streams. Learn to identify animals and plants.