Motlow graduate Parker Hildreth shares his Passion for the Natural World
Parker Hildreth, a recent Motlow graduate from Smithville, knows what makes him “tick” when it comes to his passion for the world of nature. Whether it is studying crayfish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or researching salmon in the rugged wilderness of Idaho, Hildreth has a fascination with the diversity and complexity of the natural world.
Hildreth’s love for indigenous fauna and its world came at an early age. Instead of watching cartoons or large purple dinosaurs on television like most youngsters, he watched Animal Planet and National Geographic channels. That love led him to study biology at Motlow, and in May of this year he received his associate of science degree. He also received a Motlow Student Excellence Award, and this fall he will attend Tennessee Tech University and intends to develop a career in aquatic research.
His desire to share his passion with fellow students is evidenced by his conducting a carrion beetle study workshop last spring, supervised by Motlow Professors Janet Forde and Chatney Spencer. Hildreth led more than 20 Motlow biology students into the forests surrounding the Moore County campus to set traps to collect carrion beetles. The group returned two weeks later to retrieve the traps, taking them back to the lab for discussion and identification of the collected beetles.
“I designed this workshop to get students involved in an environment that builds fieldwork experience and attempts to create a place where passion for the natural world can be expressed,” said Hildreth. “Collectively, the insect world has a priceless wealth of knowledge seen through the vibrant diversity and numerous niches taken advantage of by carrion beetles.”
Hildreth himself has no trouble expressing his own passion for the natural world. In the summer of 2017 he served as a fisheries intern studying crayfish with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fisheries Department. From his fieldwork and research he wrote an article that appeared in the department’s periodic newsletter.
For the summer of 2018 Hildreth is serving as a biological aide for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, studying salmon in the streams of the Idaho outback. The position entails snorkeling in fast moving water, extended work stints, camping, recording accurate data, interacting with the public, and strenuous hiking over rough terrain. He often works eight to ten days straight followed by four to six days off.
“There are few people that possess as much passion, zeal, and enthusiasm about science as Parker Hildreth,” said Chatney Spencer, Motlow chemistry instructor. “His ability to make relevant connections between seemingly unrelated matters is rivaled by few. If the future of scientific research and discovery is left in the hands of budding scientists like Parker, it truly is a safe place.”