Welcome to DANTAisms, Meet Arrianne, a DANTA Alum!

Hello and welcome to DANTA’s new face in the social media world! Here you will find photos and articles all centering around conservation, awareness, current issues, and simply trying to protect and care for the world we live in. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this project, and now it is finally kicking off!

Arrianne Byrum, DANTA Field Course Summer 2012

Arrianne Byrum, DANTA Field Course Summer 2012

My name is Arrianne Byrum, and I am going to be one of the many authors that will proceed to introduce themselves over the next few days. We all are alumni of one of DANTA’s field courses. You’ll see how each one of us was affected by our course, and what we are doing now.

As a high school student, I always knew I wanted to work with animals, but I wasn’t really sure of how to do it. To keep my options wide open, I chose to major in Biology at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. I joined the EKU Honors Program as well, and delved into my coursework. The honors program required that I do a senior thesis before I could graduate with honors. I wasn’t sure of what to do my thesis on; I only knew I wanted to work with animals. Having heard about a lemur field course run by Professor Benjamin Z. Freed of the Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work Department at EKU, I approached him to brainstorm and figure out what my options for my thesis could be. Before I knew it, I was flying to Costa Rica for a field course in Primatology with DANTA!

My experience with DANTA was life changing. It is absolutely astounding how much your perception of the world changes when you expand your horizons a bit. Between experiencing a new culture, learning how to study monkeys for scientific research, and making lifelong connections with people like DANTAisms author Jessica Ritsche and the DANTA director Kimberly Dingess, it was an adventure I will absolutely never forget.

Arrianne and Jessica Ritsche, DANTA Field Course Summer 2012

Arrianne and Jessica Ritsche, DANTA Field Course Summer 2012

I learned a lot of things in Costa Rica, the most prominent being that I have no desire to do research ever again. As much as I loved chasing monkeys through the rainforest, I discovered that if I were going to work with animals, I would much prefer to directly interact with them instead of observing their actions through binoculars while they are thirty feet away and up a tree, obscured by countless other trees’ branches.

My time with DANTA also, most importantly, opened my eyes to the world of Environmental Education. During the last portion of our trip, we visited a wildlife sanctuary. Seeing those rehabilitated animals that are unable to be released made me realize how important it is to educate our communities in hopes of preventing the destruction of our worlds’ species and the environments in which they (and we) live. Meeting and speaking with the owner of the wildlife sanctuary was inspiring, and lit a fire within me about a cause I had never even dreamed of pursuing before going to Costa Rica.

After my trip, I ended up writing and presenting my thesis on Primate Conservation Education and it’s effectiveness, evaluating the available scientific literature for content, evaluation methods, etc. I later presented it again as a poster at the 2013 Midwest Primate Group Conference in Ames, IA. The evaluation and effectiveness of education programs is something I’ve become quite passionate about, and look forward to hopefully continuing my research in graduate school in the future. If this topic interests you, I will most certainly be posting about this in the future. I also someday hope to publish my thesis, but as anyone in the academic community will tell you, that is something that takes a lot of time and work, and is something I am working toward ever so slowly.

After graduation in 2013, I immediately began an internship as a Naturalist for the Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs, OH with their Outdoor Education Center, leading school groups on hikes involving forest ecology, geology, environmental issues, etc. I also worked with their Raptor Center, handling birds of prey. I spent a year with Glen Helen, and then moved to Tybee Island, GA where I am an Environmental Educator with the Georgia 4-H program. I am still doing what I love, just with a slightly more “beachy” theme! Turtles, horseshoe crabs, snakes, etc., and I love it!

Arrianne and Voldemort, a corn snake

Arrianne and Voldemort, a corn snake

I am absolutely on fire for what I do, and will continue to pursue a career in environmental education. You will find my posts will be mostly centered on this, as well as educational resources. I will also post on current events and other topics as they come up. Thank you for taking the time to check out DANTAisms. Please come back every day to see more of what our fabulous alumni have to say!

I am also currently working on starting a personal blog, titled Mulch In My Shirt. This is focused on my personal experiences and antics, and will most assuredly be good for a laugh from time to time. Please feel free to visit!

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