A love of nature inspires a college student to pursue a career in conservation biology

Nathan Kiel grew up hiking with his dad in upstate New York. During high school, he volunteered for outdoor recreational organizations such as the Adirondack Mountain Club, rehabilitating trails and doing trail maintenance.

Nathan Kiel Portrait 300x300His outdoor experiences helped Nathan to “put things into perspective,” presenting challenges to overcome and learn from. “If you’re hiking or you’re outside and having a tough time, eventually you might get to the top of a mountain and you’ll be better, or you won’t succeed this time, but you’ll go back,” he commented.

Nathan’s love of nature prompted him to enroll in the conservation biology program at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, last fall. He said, “I’ve grown up with an appreciation for the natural world and our human relationship with it and within it. I feel like it’s given a lot to me growing up and helped me grow up a lot, and so I wanted to try to give back.”  

Nathan hopes to pursue an advanced degree in the field of conservation biology. “I’ve always been driven to have goals,” he said. “Hiking and my dad have helped me be driven.” He’d like to get a PhD and go on to teach and do research so that he can make a positive contribution as a conservation biologist.

In his General Biology 1 course, Nathan uses MasteringBiology™, an online program. His favorite feature of the program is the study area. “It does a good job of hitting the themes the professors want us to understand,” he explained. “I like to go through the practice tests for all the chapters that the exam’s going to be on, so I can get a feel for what I know and what I don’t know or what I need to work on.” He also likes that the questions in the practice sections are sometimes more specific than those on his professor’s tests, because they help ensure that he knows the material well.   

Nathan finds the online program’s chapter reviews and knowledge assessments very useful as well. Comparing them to the practice tests, he remarked, “I’ve used them for a similar reason—to gauge how I’m doing in the class and how well I understood the textbook.”

Gauging how well I’m doing has been the main benefit for me of MasteringBiology.


The videos in MasteringBiology are also a big help to Nathan. While taking a practice exam, he can think back to a video he saw and call an image to mind. He believes the videos clarify the content in the textbook and are another resource for solidifying his understanding of material.  

MasteringBiology provides the practice, feedback, and resources that Nathan needs to succeed in his biology courses. Like hiking, the tool allows him to gauge his abilities and find new paths for overcoming challenges.