When Foxboro High School graduate Danae Reager considered colleges to study wildlife biology, she knew what she wanted.
“Somewhere cold,” she said. “I didn’t want to go south at all, and I didn’t want to stay in New England.”
This search landed her at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, one of two schools she applied to in the state. Reager had vacationed there with family several times and said she and fell in love with the wildlife and the Northern Lights.
An animal lover with a particular interest in birds, plants, and wildlife, Reager’s senior project at FHS involved working at Winslow Farms in Norton and assisting with the animals on-site.
Now she has her heart set on viewing larger game — especially bears.
“That’s actually one of the great things about Alaska,” she said. “It’s the only place in the United States that has all three of the main types of bears: brown, black, and polar.”
Though traveling back and forth from Alaska figures to be challenging, Reager isn’t worried, noting the school keeps dorms open over breaks to accommodate students far from home.
Like many of her peers, Reager hopes to study abroad, and currently is considering Australia, Antarctica and Nepal. She will also attend a wilderness orientation before classes start that includes backpacking, a glacier walk and hiking in Denali State Park with 23 future classmates.
While at Foxboro High School Reager played ice hockey, which she believes will help her adjust to Alaska’s wintry climate.
“Ice hockey helped me realize that I can deal with the cold,” she said. “And I can walk on ice with moderate success.”
She also spoke highly of her two biology teachers, Jonathan Montanaro and Jeremy Champlin, who made biology fun. Reager said her final assignment for AP Biology — documenting how plants respond to colored lights — was especially interesting, and left her wondering about its real-world applications.
Contemplating career options, Reager said she hopes to satisfy her passion for preservation.
“I want to do my best to work with endangered animals and possibly climate change,” she said. “Another great thing about Alaska is that it’s one of the only places left where there’s still a lot of the cold and wilderness that’s untouched, so I want to figure out how to preserve that.”
Her advice to incoming high school students?
“Don’t be afraid to jump in there and really join in the community and all the activities because you don’t want these next four years to go to waste,” she said. “Experiment with as much as possible to make sure you’re prepared for life and you’re future, and you can figure out what you want to do.”