Outstanding Grad: Clare Ryan
Warner College of Natural Resources

story by Jayme DeLoss
photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
published Dec. 14, 2022

Clare Ryan wants people to know that science is for everyone. She didn’t realize that while earning her first degree in English and global studies from Lehigh University, but she’s glad she followed her passion for wildlife conservation to Colorado State University to earn a second degree in fish, wildlife and conservation biology.

After graduating in 2011, Ryan worked for consulting companies and government and nongovernment organizations in Washington, D.C. Later, while selling insurance in Austin, Texas, she realized she needed to find a new direction.

Ryan picked up nature photography, went backpacking and reconnected with her love of wildlife through volunteer opportunities. She had always been drawn to conservation but hadn’t realized she could pursue it as a career.

Ryan said she struggled with math and science as a kid, so returning to school for the science foundation necessary to work in conservation was nerve-racking.

“When I decided to come back to school for a science degree, I was nervous about not understanding the material,” she said. “I worked really hard, asked a lot of questions and excelled in the general science courses. I’m proud of myself for the work I put into this degree.”

Ryan’s hard work has paid off. She is graduating with a 4.0 GPA and plans to go on to graduate school for wildlife biology.

While researching the impact of the Cameron Peak Fire on squirrels at the Mountain Campus for a CSU Extension internship, Ryan had the opportunity to teach K-12 students about wildlife science and environmental change. She wants young people to know that they, too, can turn their love of animals and the environment into a career.

in their own words

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time at CSU?

How important science communication is to effectively promote conservation. I appreciate how many of my classes incorporated SciComm assignments so that we can build skills to bridge the gap between scientists and the public when it comes to conservation issues.

Q. What was the most challenging part about returning to school after receiving a previous degree and joining the workforce?

Because my first degree was a Bachelor of Arts, I did not previously have to take calculus. I hadn’t taken a math class since high school many years ago, so I had to relearn middle-grade math to place into the PACe program. From there I spent my first year re-studying algebra, trigonometry and logarithms to prepare for calculus. It was very challenging, but I got through it!

Q. Why is it important to you to teach K-12 students about wildlife science and environmental change?

It’s important to teach K-12 students about environmental issues because it is crucial that they understand that wildlife biology and environmental sciences are careers that are available to them. Although I loved animals growing up, it wasn’t until several years after earning my first degree that I realized wildlife biology was something I could study. If we teach more kids about the importance of conservation, then we can get more diverse perspectives in this field down the line, which will be crucial for enacting workable solutions.

outstanding grads

The Class of 2022 represents the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this fall. read more