Jenny Decker: Wolf Whisperer and Avid Animal Volunteer

Name: Jenny Decker

Year: Junior

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

Major: Biology

Courtesy: Jenny Decker

Her Campus (HC): So you’re the vice president of the Pre-Vet Club. What exactly do you guys do?

Jenny Decker (JD): We provide our members with a wide variety of opportunities, knowledge, connections and resources to better prepare themselves for applying to Veterinary school. We typically have a veterinarian or an admissions officer come in to talk and answer questions at our meetings. It's not all business; we have a lot of fun too, with various socials and fundraisers! 

HC: Do you need to be on the pre-vet track to participate in the organization?

JD: Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, I am not on the pre-vet track myself. I want to have a career in wildlife biology and ecology. We are a pretty big group of about 150 members and the interests among our members are vast. We have students interested in marine biology, animal therapy and psychology, service animals and pretty much all of the other animal-related careers out there.

HC: You’re a regular volunteer at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve. What’s that like?

JD: It’s the absolute best! Every day spent at the wolf preserve is a good day and the work we accomplish is very rewarding. Going on their tour is already a once-in-a-lifetime experience but volunteering with the wolves is really something special. You begin to form bonds with them, each having their own unique personality. I actually volunteered at Seacrest this morning for a 2nd grade field trip and when I drove up to the preserve, the wolves let out a long howl in excitement for my arrival; they are incredibly intelligent animals. 

Courtesy: Jenny Decker

HC: What’s a common misconception about wolves?

JD: Often times people associate wolves with being vicious and terrifying. Typically people think this way because of how “Hollywood” and the media portray them; everyone knows the story of the “Big Bad Wolf”. But in all actuality, it is very rare for people to encounter wolves in the wild because they are afraid of humans. They can sense when we are near, and they will run the other direction. It is even rarer for a wolf to attack a person in the wild. Humans are simply not on the menu for wolves, only large ungulate [hooved] species are.

HC: It’s amazing that Seacrest is close by, but isn’t Florida an odd location for a wolf preserve? Why here and not somewhere cooler?

JD: This is a great question, as obviously Florida is not anywhere near their natural habitat! It’s all about spreading the awareness of wolves and their protection nationwide. It’s not enough for the states where wolves are native to know about their protection. In order for there to be change, people in states all across the U.S. must be aware of why the conservation of this keystone species is so important. Also, to run a wolf preserve, you need people who are willing to dedicate all of their time and have enough space to have a humane and natural environment. Seacrest is located on about 430 acres of property and each enclosure has tons of space along with its own spring fed lake, which the wolves use to cool off.

Courtesy: Jenny Decker

HC: Do you volunteer anywhere else?

JD: I also volunteer at St. Francis Wildlife Association. They rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned wild animals from all over Northern Florida and Southern Georgia. I recently started volunteering at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, as well.

HC: If you could accomplish all that you want to do, in ten years what would your life look like?

JD: In ten years, I hope to be conducting research on wolves somewhere up in the northwestern U.S. My dream would be to work as a biologist and a wildlife officer to better study and protect this species and then maybe go into teaching after that. I love children and want a family of my own in the future.

HC: Since you’re an animal lover, do you have a lot of pets at home?

JD: I have two dogs with me here in Tallahassee; Rusty is an American Staffordshire terrier, and Nella is a Brittany spaniel. Both are 8 years-old.

Rusty (left) and Nella (right)

Courtesy: Jenny Decker

HC: I’ve always wanted a dog but it’s a huge time commitment, how do you juggle it all?

JD: You definitely have to have a lot of time for them and be financially stable. When adopting a dog, you should be their forever home, so this responsibility carries on for 10+ years. I am renting a house with a huge back yard; my dogs have always been high energy and more outdoor oriented. I also make sure I get them out of the house often, whether it is for a walk around the block or a long hike through the woods. Instead of staying at the library for all hours, I do the majority of my schoolwork at home so I can be with them.

HC: I know you like doing a lot of outdoor activities, what’s your favorite spot in Tallahassee?

JD:  I love going to Lake Jackson Indian Mounds. It’s not a far drive off campus, right past the highway on Monroe Street. There is an awesome hiking trail there with elevated areas, ravines, creeks and limestone rock. You can actually go up on top of the Indian mounds; it’s rather stunning when the sun is setting. There is also a ton of wildlife sightings and it is relatively quiet so it's a good place to take a breath; I’m sure we all need that once in a while as college students!

For anyone interested in the Pre-Veterinary club, they meet every other Wednesday in the College of Medicine at 7 p.m. Want to take a tour at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve? Find more information here!