Concordia University Texas sits on 440 acres in Northwest Austin, 250 of which compose a nature and wildlife preserve. Students have the incredible opportunity to help the University care for the preserve by joining the Concordia Rangers.
The Concordia Rangers are paid student workers who assist the Office of Environmental Stewardship in monitoring and managing activities related to the campus, including the Concordia Preserve.
Alden Suttle has served as a Concordia Ranger for multiple semesters. Graduating in 2022, Suttle is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Environmental Science & Conservation and Mathematics.
Subtle recently shared the life-changing opportunities she has experienced as a Concordia Ranger.
After attending the University of Texas at Austin and deciding it wasn't the right fit for her, Suttle visited Concordia's campus. "The second I walked onto the campus, I felt completely surrounded by nature," she said. "It was so gorgeous. The campus drew me here."
With a passion for nature, specifically wildlife, the Concordia Preserve solidified her decision. "I also heard that there was a nature preserve on campus where students can conduct projects," she explained. "It seemed like the perfect fit for me."
Becoming a Concordia Ranger
During one of her environmental science classes, Suttle learned about the Concordia Rangers program, and it piqued her interest. She started volunteering with Zach Stark, the director of Environmental Stewardship.
"I fell in love with the job," Suttle said. "I feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose in this role."
Developing An Array of Skills as a Concordia Ranger
Concordia Rangers work on a variety of projects. Suttle has worked on the Concordia Preserve trails and Tornado Trail, helped with volunteer events, monitored game and wildlife cameras, assisted with data collection and more. She's even visited Concordia's Friesenhahn Cave to see the inner workings of the project.
"Alden has taken advantage of the Concordia ranger position, jumping in on all of these projects," Stark said. "She's the best example of someone who's living the balance of working as a student and tying what she learns into the classroom."
Suttle also manages the official CTX Environmental Stewardship Instagram account, which features pictures of the nature and wildlife around campus.
"I learn by doing the posts," she explained. "I'm not just informing people; I'm learning too. I have developed skills in being able to communicate the value of nature to people who may otherwise not be interested.”
Customized Concordia Ranger Experience
Another unique aspect of the Concordia Rangers program is that each student works on projects related to their interests. "I try to tailor the program to each ranger's passion," Stark said.
One of Suttle's favorite projects as a Concordia Ranger was testing the water quality in the preserve for the University-wide habitat conservation plan. Suttle used equipment to measure the water's pH balance, nitrates and nitrites.
"I was interested in the project because it merged the Concordia Preserve component that I love with the chemistry component that I love," she explained.
Preparation for the Future
Serving as a Concordia Ranger has helped Suttle prepare for life beyond graduation.
“While I may not yet know the specifics of what I want to do, I have learned from this job that I want to do something where I make a difference for the environment," she said.
Through her work as a Concordia Ranger, Suttle has developed skills in multiple areas. "One great thing about this job is that I have built an incredible resume," she explained. "It has equipped me with a series of skill sets that will enable me to leap into any science, sustainability or environmental conservation career.”
She encourages all CTX students to consider becoming a Concordia Ranger. “I don’t know any other university where I could be an undergrad and do all these things that this job has allowed me to do," Suttle said. "My resume will be full. These experiences are priceless, and I’m so grateful for this position.”
Become a Concordia Ranger
All CTX students are invited to apply to the Concordia Rangers program.
Through this paid student-worker role, you will gain valuable hands-on experience while helping to manage and maintain Concordia's beautiful campus.
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