The last time I was at Nachusa, I was in elementary school. Back then, we called it “the buffalo place”. Cue Hannah Montana, “You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home”. I have changed a lot since Monroe Center Elementary took a field trip out to see the Lee County buffalo. I think at that point I was still riding the “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up” phase, or it was an actor. My parents tell me that my all-time favorite movie when I was younger was Enemy at the Gates, which is a WWII film about Russia’s miliary strategy. Jude Law must have really inspired me. Anyway, when I first stepped foot on the Nachusa grass, I did not have veterinarian, let alone scientist, in mind. I’m sure I had dreams of college, but definitely not Carleton.I could probably make a PowerPoint presentation about all of the character crisis I have had since my first Nachusa visit. Understanding what wildlife conservation research is really about would absolutely make the list. I used to always think that scientists cook up crazy potions in a lab and never see the sun. They definitely did not roam the fields looking for turtles to swab. I didn’t know of any scientists in Ogle or Lee County, and I assumed that anyone with a PhD had aspirations to be a fancy professor. After getting older and expirencing the vast world of research and realzing that my ideas were rather far off, I am happiest counting eggs or searching for solutions to the environment’s problems. I feel lucky to have full circled back to Nachusa, still as a buffalo admirer, but also as a female scientist. I am beyond excited for what the week will hold. Nothing is better than this.