Degree Studying Furry, Feathered Things Awaits Vandal Marching Band Member
Rylie Malm has always marched to her own tune.
Her musical prowess had her high stepping in marching bands since elementary school. After high school, she earned a spot on the Vandal Marching Band. But it was the love of animals that brought her to the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources.
By going to the University of Idaho, I got to stay in my home state - and my hometown.Rylie Malm ’21
Malm, who graduates this month with a degree in wildlife resources, spent five seasons playing clarinet at Vandal football games. And despite traveling the globe as a student, attending U of I allowed her to earn a degree close to home.
“By going to the University of Idaho, I got to stay in my home state — and my hometown,” Malm said. “It really gave me a great foundation for the work I want to do going forward.”
When she enrolled at U of I, Malm intended to pursue a biology degree, but after a few months in the lab, she realized that studying outdoors alongside small animals would be a better fit for her. Malm switched to the College of Natural Resources in spring of her freshman year, changing her major to align more closely with her interests.
“I like animals,” she said. “Mostly small furry creatures like bats and martens and badgers.”
As a student, Malm assisted with research on critters from pygmy rabbits in south central Idaho to golden eagles in the Snake River drainage. She spent one semester abroad studying birds on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
Her advisor, Ryan Long, associate professor of wildlife sciences, said Malm is the kind of engaging student with a lot of interests and creativity necessary to be a good scientist.
“Rylie’s a pleasure to work with,” Long said. “She’s always prepared, always on point, naturally inquisitive and positive.”
The combination leads to successful careers in natural resources, where nature doesn’t always comply with human intentions.
“She made my job fun and she’ll undoubtedly do well in this field,” he said.
After graduation, Malm will begin work for the Latah County Soil and Water Conservation District planting native vegetation in riparian areas.
We were able to go outside and employ the things we were being taught in the classroom.Rylie Malm ’21
“We plant a lot of native shrubs like dogwood and willow, forbs such as prairie smoke, and grasses and sedges,” Malm said. “It’s mainly in old meadows and sites disturbed by agriculture or industry.”
Being in the field, along with being in uniform at U of I football games as a Vandal Marching Band member, was among the highlights of her studies, Malm said.
“The University of Idaho provided me with some real great hands-on experiences in addition to the lectures and readings,” she said. “We were able to go outside and employ the things we were being taught in the classroom.”
Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing.
Images courtesy of Rylie Malm.
Published in May 2021.