CAFNR Advisor Spotlight: Libby Johnson

Johnson serves as an academic advisor for the natural resource science and management degree program

Libby Johnson serves as an academic advisor for the natural resource science and management degree program.
Libby Johnson serves as an academic advisor for the natural resource science and management degree program.

How rewarding is it to work with students in the natural resource science and management degree program?

I love it! I love relating to the students through my nerdy office décor and being interested in what they are interested in. I also feel like my faculty and students are so kind and down to earth. Even if I don’t feel competent in the position, the students are appreciative of my help. I feel like I get to help them and see fruits of both their labor and my own. Many times I get to help them in what seems like insignificant moments but might be large moments to them. Being a warm, understanding presence when they need it has brought a lot of joy.

How do you assist those students throughout their academic journey?

I haven’t been here long enough to see a student from a prospective meeting to graduation, but I feel like I know them better each semester. I like to foster partnerships where we work collaboratively to create semester plans and implement their goals. Though I do help educating them on graduation requirements and planning their semesters, there’s a large chunk of my work that is helping them to become adults. There have been many times a student will come to me with a problem outside of scheduling whether that be family issues, financial stress, course work, conflict resolution, or even understanding who they are and what they want. Often, I am the student’s first point of contact and am a liaison to additional resources, thought processes and instructors. I try to always follow up with a student whether it’s about semester planning or about a struggle they have been facing.

What advice would you give to high school students who are interested in pursuing a degree in natural resource science and management?

I would like our students to know that our degree is focused on management, ecology and conservation. We focus not just on the squirrel but the tree it lives in and the environment around it. Other programs will primarily focus on zoology, but we want you to have a well-rounded experience here and be very marketable when you leave. Another piece of advice is that your faculty here are some of your greatest assets – get to know them and don’t be scared to ask them questions and make yourself known! They have so much experience and connections all over the world. The last thing I want to stress is that it’s OK to not know what you want to do. So many students come into my office stressed because they haven’t found their career yet. You will have plenty of time figure that out – even after you graduate!

What is your favorite part of serving as an academic advisor for this degree program?

I love being in this environment because I am always learning cool things about nature through the students. I have always loved science and am usually a person who loves the idea of nature but not necessarily being in it. I feel like my students bring so much passion to this science it makes me want to experience it myself!