Senior’s conservation efforts span from MSU across the country
For forestry and environmental geosciences senior Hunter Stanke, Michigan State University’s land-grant heritage serves as the springboard to his future in conservation and ecology. His work has received national recognition and is making an impact at MSU, around the state and across the country.
"If we can help inspire the next generation of conservation leaders, that’s what we’re here for,” Stanke said. “We’re solving problems. We’re actually making a difference in the world. There are no boundaries."
Stanke was nominated for two of the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships: the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education, which provides scholarships to candidates across the country to support natural sciences, mathematics and engineering; and the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, awarded to students who bestow leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. Stanke was also honored with a 2018 Goldwater Honorable Mention.
Since his freshman year, Stanke seized opportunities to make a difference and learn from College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, or CANR, faculty. He was a research assistant with both the Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center and with the Walters Silvicultural Research Laboratory; and as president of the Forestry Club, heorganized a Christmas tree sale fundraiser and has done service work at the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing. Stanke also designed and implemented experimental procedures to assess chronic wasting disease detection in Michigan white-tailed deer populations and is currently developing an agent-based deer movement model.
“I’m amazed at his commitment to so many different things,” said Justin Kunkle, CANR advisor. “He’s not afraid to take the lead on anything. He takes the initiative.”
For the summer of 2018, Stanke is conducting field work and develop modeling approaches in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest on the west slope of the Oregon Cascades. His work will be part of Oregon State University’s Eco-Informatics Summer Institute.
“I’ll work as a member of a research team assessing the river corridor exchange,” Stanke said. “We will essentially work to improve our ability to predict the transport and fate of contaminants in river corridors, enabling more effective management of water resources in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.”
This field work follows his forestry internship with the federal Bureau of Land Management in Cottonwood, Idaho, where he worked on timber sale preparation and reforestation projects, and served as a wildland firefighter.
Stanke said traveling, internships and seeing different locations and environments have given him a broader perspective on the world and helped him find different and new ways to approach ecology and conservation as integrated systems with socioeconomic components.