Undergraduate Spotlight: Andres Hayes

Andres Hayes, a junior Fisheries & Wildlife (Conservation Biology) and Animal Science major.
Andres Hayes, a junior Fisheries & Wildlife (Conservation Biology) and Animal Science major.

Hi, my name is Andres Hayes and I am a junior fisheries/wildlife (conservation biology) and animal science major. In the fall semester of 2021 I was a Community Projects Manager/Wildlife Research Assistant in the Zambezi Delta of Mozambique (South Eastern Africa).

I worked for this same organization for 18 amazing months after high school before starting my studies at UNL, and was asked to come back to assist with a cheetah reintroduction as well as some translating work. With help from both my advisor Sara Winn and Professor Larkin Powell we set up a curriculum with projects to complete to progress my academic career as well as fulfill this work commitment that went hand in hand with what I am studying.

No two days are ever the same working in the Delta but my main responsibilities included day to day telemetry tracking and satellite monitoring of a seed population of cheetahs that were released into the area in August 2021, as well as lions that were brought into the area in 2018 which I was heavily involved with during my previous time working in this conservation area. I was also managing a community beekeeping project that works to give locals an income source through honey production and reduce their need for illegal hunting and further destruction of the local forest due to slash and burn agriculture.

Apart from these duties, I helped with anti poaching operations, game capture, aerial game counts, covid testing/vaccination, community relations, translating work, and even
helicopter maintenance, all activities necessary to the continued conservation and monitoring
of the area and animals that live there as well as the success of the community based conservation model necessary in areas where wildlife and humans are forced to coexist.

The time I worked at this same conservation area after high school was what inspired me to study conservation biology in the first place, so the opportunity to come back and complete independent research projects while once again working on the frontlines of conservation was the best possible semester I could imagine. From the time I began in the Zambeze Delta in 2018 I have been working with some of the most experienced wildlife biologists and veterinarians in Africa and the incredible amount of passion and knowledge they radiate has inspired me to pursue a similar career once I have completed my studies.

More details at: https://snr.unl.edu/undergrad/majors/fish_wild/