School on Environment and Natural Resources
Natural Resource Management - Parks and Recreation
Lewis Center, OH
The most impactful experience of Danielle Hutchison’s undergraduate career has been her time with the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Scholars community. A member of the organization’s leadership council since her first semester, she credits her early involvement and the relationships cultivated through ENR Scholars as laying the groundwork for a fulfilling college experience dedicated to learning, leadership, and personal growth. Along with co-executive officers and close friends, she helped lead the community through uncertain times, growing into an exemplary servant leader.
Having begun her work with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in 2018 as a lab assistant with no prior field experience, Dani points to her progress as a field researcher as her greatest accomplishment. Though her initial misgivings over her inexperience proved an obstacle, she learned to view every mistake as a learning opportunity. Her successful efforts led to multiple advancements, culminating in her promotion to USDA Biological Field Technician in January 2022. Throughout her time with the unit, she developed and conducted two independent projects examining snake sampling techniques, presenting her findings at the 2021 Ohio PARC virtual conference and the upcoming CFAES Undergraduate Research Forum this spring.
In 2021, Dani stepped away from academic instruction to serve a six-month term as an AmeriCorps Chainsaw Crew Member with the nonprofit American Conservation Experience. Her service took her all over the eastern United States, from the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley. Facing a diverse and all-encompassing set of challenges, she gained an unparalleled technical skillset for her future as a natural resource manager including certifications in chainsaw use, wilderness first aid, and CPR, along with practical experience in carpentry, tool and machine maintenance, and more. On the experience, Dani reflected, “I recalibrated my approach to life, redefining what it meant to chase my joy and came to realize that I am happiest when each day is spent engaging my mind and body for the greater goal of conservation.”
Dani named ENR Scholars Coordinator Brett Baughman as her mentor and shared the following: “He celebrates my victories with me, has helped me work through challenges time and time again, and always offers valuable wisdom and joyful laughter. His belief in me and deep well of compassion afforded every opportunity for me to grow in confidence and leadership. His example taught me to dream big, reach for the stars, and give my all in everything I do. The passion he shows for what he does is so palpable, that I cannot see myself doing anything with any less gusto. Working with Brett during my time in Scholars helped me discover who I wanted to be as a leader, and he continually supplied the resources and encouragement to achieve that vision.”
Following graduation, Dani will continue her federal employment with the USDA-ARS as a Biological Field Technician under Dr. Rocky Smiley with the Soil Drainage Research Unit. At the conclusion of the upcoming field season, she will travel to Spain, with plans to backpack the 500-mile Camino de Santiago.
Service, accolades, and involvement: ENR Scholars, leadership council and other leadership roles | College Mentors for Kids | OSU Community Orchestra | Buckeyethon