University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Bonnie Wathen - 2006

I graduated from UK with a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation and Management inBonnie Wathen May of 2006 and went on to get a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from UK’s Martin School that I completed in May of 2008. I was very pleased with the NRCM program and how my NRCM background complimented the MPA coursework.

As an undergrad, I interned with the Student Conservation Association at CarlsbadCaverns National Park in New Mexico as well as with Bluegrass Pride in Lexington. The summer in between undergrad and grad school, I worked at McConnell Springs in Lexington doing environmental education with kids ages 6-12. My concentration area with my MPA was environmental management in order to keep my degrees cohesive. As a graduate student, I had the unique opportunity to work with Dr. Craig Infanger on a grant project with UK that evaluated the effectiveness of the Agricultural Development Board investments in Kentucky agriculture from 2001-2007. Working on this project allowed me to travel around the state and see first hand how different sectors of agriculture operate. These internships, as well as my work at McConnell Springs, allowed me to put my NRCM education into practice.

In addition to having an internship during grad school, I also had a two year assistantship with the UK Student Center Director’s Office where I supervised all the student employees. Upon finishing my MPA, the Student Center offered me a full time job as
Assistant Director which I took and was in until May of 2010 when I was promoted to Associate Director. On a day-to-day basis in both positions, I focus mainly on event management which allows me to work with students, faculty, and staff to plan and execute events in the Student Center as well as Memorial Hall and outdoor spaces around campus. Our office manages over 10,000 events a year for the University community. I sincerely hope to see a new/renovated Student Center become a reality while I am here so
I can work to make it a green and sustainable facility.

In addition to working at UK, I advise a student organization, am active in the alumni associations and participate in activities like alternative spring break where I have gone with students to do service trips for the past two spring breaks. I also enjoy hiking,
camping, attending UK sporting events, and going to Keeneland.

I’d like to share two pieces of advice. First, I encourage you to get involved with as many internships and volunteer opportunities in your field of interest as possible. These experiences will enrich you as a person, make you a more competitive candidate in the
job market, and help you establish networks with people you otherwise would never meet. Second, I strongly suggest you build relationships with your advisors and professors, especially in the College of Agriculture. My contacts within the College of Ag. challenged me with my course work, helped me obtain internships, served as mentors for me all through school, and generally helped make my experience as a student exceptional. I wish all of you the best of luck and please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Contact info: or UK Student Center room 209