The following is a guest blog by Neil Estes, an M.S. student in the Verble Fire Ecology Lab.
Hello, my name is Neil Estes and I am a graduate student in Dr. Verble’s lab. I have a B.S. in Range Science from Texas Tech which I completed in 2015. This is my second undergraduate degree. My first was in design communication completed in 2001. After finishing that first degree I worked in advertising in the Dallas area for 7 years. During those years I became hooked on training dogs to work livestock.
After so many years in Dallas it all started to come together. By this time Advertising had run its course. I was looking for a big change. I had been in contact with a rancher in Oregon for some time and decided to take my love of dog training and level of livestock experience to the next level. I accepted a position as a shepherd and my dog and I headed northwest. I worked for a year in the northeastern part of Oregon. I consider this dramatic change in my life the best decision I ever made. I even met my wife there. This experience-- more than any other-- led me to natural resource management, and I haven’t looked back since. I believe there is no substitute for life experience.
My research project focuses on thistle abundance and distribution as well as thistle-insect communities in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. I have always loved the higher elevations in the mountains and have spent a lot of time bagging peaks in Colorado. This opportunity to work in the high country in New Mexico is simply amazing and I can’t wait for my first field season!
Contact Neil for more information about his work at TTU.