Passionate about the outdoors and nature, Abigail Waugh always believed she’d find a career in a science field.
Through volunteer work, however, the recreation, parks and tourism resources major realized her true strength and joy lies in working with and teaching people, particularly children.
“I believe environmental education is a key part of building a brighter and more sustainable future. Our youth and our environment are two of the greatest resources we have, and good environmental education should benefit both,” she said. “If we want future generations to care for, value, and find innovative ways to conserve the environment, we need to not only give them the information and understanding necessary for the work but also the personal connection to the environment that motivates them to do it.”
As a student at West Virginia University, Waugh was able to intern with the 4-H Extension Camp Instructor Program through WVU Extension Service. The program is designed to enhance the development of young people through proven experiential-based training.
“I worked with new ECI applicants in the hiring process, developed two environmental education programs, and helped in the transition from in-person programming to Camp U-R-Linked virtual programming,” she said.
Best part of your time at WVU?
The best part of my time at WVU was definitely the people. This is my classmates, the faculty and staff, fellow club members, even the greater Morgantown community. As much as I’ve loved what I studied, it’s really the people that I’ve met through WVU that have believed in me, encouraged me, created opportunities, and pushed me to do my best and try new things that have made my time at WVU special and valuable.
Most difficult or most unexpected?
This is a pretty typical answer, but time management was somewhat difficult to learn. I expected that I would need to learn new ways to study and to take care of my own responsibilities that pretty much every college student has to learn when they first begin. I also added a lot of other commitments into my schedule through work, club leadership roles, and other opportunities later on. At that point you have to learn to not only manage time, but to set hard priorities and boundaries that work for you and your situation, so that you’re not only balancing your responsibilities but your making sure to take care of your own health and wellbeing too. That was a difficult journey for me, but I’d also say it’s probably one of the most important lessons I learned outside of the classroom. WVU had so many programs and resources that helped to facilitate that lesson and make it easier to do.
What would you do differently?
This is a hard question, and I tend not to focus on regrets too much. Overall, I'm happy with my time at WVU, how I spent it and how hard I tried. However, looking back on it I can think of many small things like opportunities I wish I had taken and experiences I wish I had valued more at the time. That’s only been made clearer by the unconventional circumstances of my final semester.
Advice for future students?
Like most things in life, your time at WVU will be what you make it. Take every opportunity to try new things and develop new skills. WVU and Davis College provide so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to those who are brave enough to try them, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where you’re most to learn, grow, make a difference, and find the things that you are passionate about.
In tackling your degree and coming to WVU, what were you most afraid of? Was your fear realized? How did you overcome it?
I think like most people I was afraid of starting the next chapter, of not finding where I fit and what I was good at. It was pretty daunting at first, but I overcame it by trying new things and not being afraid to find and rule out things that was not for me.