Adams State biology program prepares Mullins for success

(11-02-2016)

Article by Linda Relyea

taelor mullins holding a newborn fawn in the wild

Collaring newborn fawns this summer, Taelor Ashton Mullins now creates an interest in science for fifth graders at Center Elementary School. Mullins graduated from Adams State University last spring and then completed an internship with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

During May and June, in Meeker, Colo., she worked on a mule deer neonate crew where they assessed the survivability rate of mule deer fawns. “I was able to handle and collar newborn fawns.”

Majoring in wildlife biology with minors in chemistry and psychology, Mullins said the Adams State Biology Program taught her to be resourceful, which comes in handy when managing a elementary school classroom. “Although I may not have learned everything in my field to be completely prepared for a job, I knew where to look in order to learn about things that were foreign to me. The program also prepared me to learn things quickly and to be able to apply that knowledge. I learned how to not be afraid to ask questions as well as how to use my peers as a source of knowledge.”

From July until September, Mullins worked in Creede, Colo. on a lynx crew. “We worked on assessing lynx habitat through vegetation surveys most of the summer, but also did some snowshoe hare surveys as well as were able to look for dropped lynx collars a few days.”

She appreciated learning new techniques, such as telemetry. “I was also able to hone some other skills such as map and GPS reading. Above all, I enjoyed meeting new people and making new contacts within the wildlife biology field.”

The challenges faced during the both internship positions, were met with an open mind and through group effort. “We were given a lot of freedom to work individually. It was great to be in charge of our own schedule and planning; however, it created a few challenges for the crews. Everyone had their own ideas about the order we should do things in, which places to go to first, and the best routes to get to where we needed to go. It was often a challenge to come to an agreement when everyone has their own ideas, but we learned to listen to all of our options, compromise, and come up with the best plans and routes.”

Hands-on instruction

Field work and quality instruction from the Adams State Biology Program helped motivate Mullins while earning her degree. “We are able to do more field work in class than at some other universities. The professors are genuinely excited to teach and help out the students as much as possible, not only in school, but with internship and job opportunities as well.”

Her favorite professors were Dr. Tim Armstrong, professor of biology, and Dr. Matthew Steffenson, assistant professor of biology. “Instead of sitting through lectures it felt more like listening to the most interesting stories every day. They were always willing to help students at all times whether it be with class materials, letters of recommendation, or simply with our everyday problems.”

Armstrong said Mullins was a conscientious student who always went the extra mile to make sure that her work was thorough and complete. “She was one of the strongest writers that I've had in several years in the biology program. With her work ethic and strong interpersonal and communication skills, I'm sure Taelor will excel in her chosen field of Wildlife Management.”

Steffenson believes Mullins was one of the strongest wildlife students he has had at Adams State. “Taelor always excelled both in class and when participating in extracurricular activities. I believe that her passion for wildlife biology, as well as her drive to furthering herself as a scientist, is indicative of her dedication to personal and professional success.”

Mullins also completed an internship with the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust located in Del Norte, CO, which ran from June 2015 to December 2015. This summer, she plans to continue on her path in the wildlife profession in the coming summer with another technician job.