Student Features

Nature-loving senior aspires to be a wildlife biologist, professor and researcher

Jan 9, 2020

As a young child, Carter Wynn's two biggest inspirations were Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and Diego, young animal rescuer and Dora the Explorer's cartoon cousin on Nick Jr.

Wynn liked Irwin's bigger-than-life personality and Diego's love for animals — particularly reptiles.

"As I watched Steve when I was younger, I always thought 'man I want to be like that guy someday when I grow up.' I just always admired the way he handled and worked with potentially dangerous animals."

As he got older, the Juniata County resident tried to learn all he could about animals, nature, and the environments that they live in.

"I am not only passionate about animals now, but I am also passionate about nature and the environment as a whole."

Wynn, a senior, has a passion for education and teaching people about the natural world. He plans to pursue a degree in biology at Susquehanna University and eventually wants to move to Florida for his master's degree and doctorate in wildlife biology or zoology.

"I would like to work as a professor someday, but I would also like to work out in the field as a researcher and wildlife biologist. I love all animals, but reptiles and amphibians have a special place in my heart."

At the end of his 10th grade year, Carter Wynn had a lab experience with biology professor Dr. Jack Holt at Susquehanna University that helped cement his appreciation for wildlife biology.

"For me, Dr. Holt really sealed the deal as far as me wanting to go there. The lab experience I had with him was absolutely amazing and he is just an all-around awesome guy with very similar interests as me."

Wynn's parents, Ryan and Georgia Wynn, and his family have been supportive of his passion. They've helped him get involved in great opportunities pertaining to wildlife and nature. For example, he volunteered at Clyde Peelings Reptiland in Allenwood for a year from ninth to 10th grade, and has helped there as a presenter, sharing his love for reptiles and facts with students who attend PA Cyber's annual Zoo Rendezvous field trip.

Jeff Cook, zoological manager, said Wynn "did an awesome job" when he was an intern at Clyde Peelings a few years ago. Cook said they are thrilled to welcome him back to do one of the scheduled animal encounters for his classmates when PA Cyber visits.

"Although younger than most interns, he already had a good base knowledge of reptiles since he had an interest early on," Cook said.
Wynn said his cyber school schedule and blended courses allowed him to have the internship.

"I got the opportunity from the PA Cyber field trip when I attended in ninth grade. They still allow me to come back and help when I want, and they allow me to do outreach for our school when we go there on field trips."

He also received support and opportunities from 4-H to explore his passions, and the Wildlife Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that works to educate and empower young conservation leaders, has supported him and continues to give him career building opportunities. Wynn said he's appreciative of all the support.

"My community stands behind me very well, as a lot of people compliment me and encourage me to continue on doing what I do in my community to promote wildlife conservation and education and they give me encouraging words for the future," he said. "Without all the people and organizations I have talked about, I would not be where I am today."

Wynn came to PA Cyber because he wanted to have a more flexible school schedule and be able to teach himself some topics he was interested in. He started in ninth grade and considers his move to PA Cyber one of the best decisions he has ever made. His sister, MiLee, also attends PA Cyber and is in seventh grade.

Wynn is a member of PA Cyber's chapter of National Honor Society, and is involved in Science Club, Maker Club, Coding and Circuits Workshop, Project High Altitude Workshop, and is on the CyberPatriot team.

Wynn said physics teacher Erin Butler and chemistry teacher Yvonne Shafer are two of his favorites.

"Both of them are very nice, helpful, intelligent and are great teachers," he said. "Overall, I like all the teachers here at PA Cyber. They are all wonderful at teaching their subjects and are willing to help in any way they can."

Butler called her former physics student a well-rounded gentleman, whom she enjoys having in Project High Altitude, science club, and as the "resident herpetologist" for his knowledge of reptiles and amphibians.

"Carter is a joy to be around," Butler said. "He is very outgoing, curious, and conscientious, in addition to very smart."

Shafer said Wynn has such a thirst for knowledge and isn't afraid to put in the tough work necessary to achieve his goals and better himself.

"More than that, Carter is a genuinely nice and respectful young man with always a polite word and smile to share," Shafer said. "I have seen him go above and beyond to show kindness to his classmates."

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instruction methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and does not charge tuition to students or families.