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Student Zach Mills posing with a tree in Bacalar, Mexico

Student Zach Mills posing with a tree in Bacalar, Mexico

Mighty Oak Monday: Zach Mills

Mighty Oak Monday: Zach Mills 

Major: Wildlife Science 

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona 

Class of ‘24 

The journey to a degree isn’t always a straight line. 

“I always knew I wanted to do wildlife biology, but I didn’t know how so I waited and worked at first.” That careful decision making paid off for Zach Mills, who discovered his love for the Northeast through time spent in Saratoga Springs and decided ESF was the place for him.  

"I’ve made a lot of good friends. People here really care about the future of the planet and are open and accepting.” Zach has also been busy with rigorous academics. He spent the summer in Bacalar, Mexico through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) examining how mangroves protect coastal communities from the impact of hurricanes. He will be presenting an abstract of his research this May in Canada called "Understanding variables affecting dwarf red mangroves in a karstic freshwater environment: Bacalar, Mexico. 

Going to Mexico with REU and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was transformative and affirmed his love of travel and languages. He learned some Spanish during his time in Mexico and is polishing his French. As for his future, he hopes to attend grad school in France and work in environmental policy.   

All of this has culminated in Zach earning the Slocum Career Advancement Award. Created from the Betsy and Jesse Fink Career Development Program, the $2,500 award goes to a graduating senior to assist with expenses such as interview-related travel, relocation expenses, and building a professional wardrobe. 

“ESF gave me a strong foundation,” Zach said. “Bio I and II are rigorous, but once you get through them, you have a strong basis for how to approach things. You start working on papers and hands-on projects almost immediately. The labs and the general classes prepared me and helped me decide early on this is something I want to do.”