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Dec. 11, 2017
Emily Porter isn’t shy about her love for being outdoors, and she found opportunities to fulfill that desire – and mold that passion into a career – at Northwest Missouri State University.
“It fit so well with what I was looking to do and where I wanted to be,” Porter said of coming to Northwest from her hometown in Kearney, Missouri. “There’s a lake here. There’s a conservation area here. There’s opportunity for all my hobbies. So for me to just be able to drive outside the city limits and have the release that I want, to take a float trip down the 102 River or whatever it may be, I have that here and that’s what I wanted.”
After receiving her master’s degree from Northwest in recreation resource management on Friday, Porter will begin work Dec. 18 as an education consultant with the Missouri Department of Conservation in Columbia, Missouri. Porter also completed her bachelor’s degree at Northwest during spring 2016 in parks and recreation management with an emphasis on environmental science.
The education consultant role is a dream job for her, and she credits Northwest with helping her build the knowledge and skills she needed to secure it. She will be engaged in programs that enable people of all ages to discover outdoor hobbies, such as bow hunting or fishing, and learn more about conservation.
“I’ve gained confidence in myself to find what I want and have the ambition to do it,” Porter said, recalling an essay she wrote as a high school student that laid out her goal of working in the conservation education field.
Porter’s interest in the outdoors began as a child after spotting one of her dad’s camouflaged hunting suits in a closet. Soon, she was learning how to fire a gun and hunting turkey, deer and ducks. She learned responsible conservation management and drew inspiration from family members and other mentors to relay her lessons to future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.
“Being able to get outside, it’s so freeing to get away from technology and, because of the world we live in now, I want to make sure that students and kids especially are able to have that opportunity that I had,” she said. “I want to work with not only the kids who want to be outside but the parents. I want to make them feel comfortable and educate them on the opportunities that are there to help them have a healthy outdoor lifestyle.”
Porter admits the path she took at Northwest wasn’t always easy. She began her college education as a wildlife ecology and conservation major before realizing it wasn’t the right fit for her interests. Faculty mentors in the School of Health Science and Wellness, including Dr. Sue Myllykangas and Dr. Alice Foose, helped Porter find her place.
She took advantage of opportunities to work as a teaching assistant and attend conferences that allowed her to build a network. She also participated for two summers in Myllykangas’ exploring recreation resources course – first as an undergraduate student and then helped lead it as a graduate assistant – which includes a two-week trip to Colorado that provides students with opportunities to visit and interact with agencies in the park and recreation field.
“The rec department worked with me to blend it all together so I got what I needed out of it,” Porter said. “The diversity that’s in that class was so incredible, and she doesn’t teach the same class twice, which is just the best part of it. On top of it, you get to go to Colorado and immerse yourself in what you want to learn. It’s really eye-opening.”
Porter also immersed herself in campus life, taking active roles with the Northwest Fishing Club and the Wildlife Club. She was involved with the Blue Key and Kappa Omicron Nu honor societies. She also worked as a graduate assistant for the Office of Student Involvement and the Student Activities Council, which enhanced the special event programming experience she is taking to her work with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“We have opportunities that are unique to each individual student,” Porter said. “I was on the fishing team for Northwest and we were able to fish nationwide. I didn’t get a scholarship for it, but I was able to travel and be involved, and that’s just an organization on campus. You can make whatever you want happen and go as far as you want with it.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468