BRI Staff Report
A father’s love can set the course of a young man’s life. That is certainly the case for BRI graduate student Taylor Daily. Growing up in Lubbock, his father spent countless hours taking him on outdoor adventures, from fishing and hunting to hiking and looking for arrowheads. His father’s interest in all manner of wildlife sparked Taylor’s interest at a very young age.
“I remember one time driving down a road and my dad spotted a snake,” recalled Taylor. “He stopped the truck and we got out to get a closer look. It turned out to be a western diamondback rattlesnake. He pinned it down with a stick, so he could show me its unique rattle and diamondback pattern. I remember thinking that my dad was the coolest because he wasn’t afraid of it, but instead showed respect for it and wanted to teach me about it.”
When it was time for Taylor to go to college, he attended a junior college, and took courses that would have led him on a path to be a physical therapist. He quickly realized that career track just wasn’t for him.
“I knew a job that had me inside all the time would not be a good choice. I started investigating careers that had to do with animals and being outdoors,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to be a zookeeper, so when I found out about what wildlife biologists did, I knew that was it.”
His boyish wonder in wildlife served him well when he enrolled at Texas Tech University and jumped into biology and resource management courses. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Natural Resources Management degree in Fall 2017.
Along with going all in with his studies, Taylor took every opportunity to learn more about a future career as a wildlife biologist. He did an internship as pronghorn technician on a Texas Tech graduate student project and volunteered for wildlife projects ranging from grassland bird netting to building guzzlers for desert bighorn sheep. As he met more professionals in the field, he heard one thing over and over again: “You need to get a Master’s degree.”
Taylor’s experience with the Borderlands Research Institute’s (BRI) Undergraduate Research and Mentorship Program introduced him to the people and projects underway at BRI. He knew he had found his place.
“BRI offers so many opportunities for its students and it is a great group of people with a lot of camaraderie,” said Taylor. “Dr. Harveson helped connect me to the right project, and I feel very fortunate to have gotten it.”
Taylor’s thesis project is researching movements, survival, and habitat use of desert bighorn sheep in the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the Big Bend. He expects to graduate with his Master’s degree in May 2020. He and his sister are the first in their family to graduate from college. Taylor will be the first with a graduate degree.
“My dad is not a man of many words and he speaks more with action,” said Taylor. “We still spend as much time as we can together outdoors, and though there may not be a lot of deep conversations, when we’re together, I know what he’s thinking even though no words are spoken. I know he’s very proud.”
Taylor’s thesis project at Black Gap WMA has connected him to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and he hopes to one day work for the state agency.
“I would love to be a county biologist,” he said. “I think that would be a great job to stick with and to see where it could go from there.”