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    Photo Katherine McGrath

    March 27, 2023

    Animated About Conservation

    As a child growing up in Roanoke, Va., Katherine McGrath ’23 was fascinated by wildlife. Part of that draw may be hereditary. Her mother, Barbara (Wagner) McGrath ’90, spent a portion of her career researching wolves. Katherine would pepper Barbara with questions about her work, and it soon became apparent that she too had a passion for animals. For a while Katherine envisioned a future as a veterinarian. However, over time, as she learned more about different species and the rate at which some are going extinct, she realized that her interests lie more in conservation and animal behavior than in medicine. 


    Today Katherine is a biology major and psychology minor at Le Moyne. A longtime fan of Animal Planet’s Big Cat Diaries, she is working on a thesis for the College’s Integral Honors Program that her younger self would surely have loved. Katherine is creating an animation to raise awareness of the challenges facing the world’s tiger population, including poaching and habitat loss. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) estimates that there are only 4,500 tigers left in the wild. The good news though, according to the organization, is that the number of tigers born out of captivity is steadily starting to rise. Katherine would like to play a role in furthering this trend. The animation at the heart of her thesis project is accompanied by an academic paper examining what nongovernmental organizations like the WWF and National Tiger Conservation Authority have done to protect tigers, and what can be learned from their efforts. 


    Director of the Integral Honors Program Matthew Fee, Ph.D., said that from the moment Katherine began this project, her commitment to it has never waned. 


    “It's been unbelievably invigorating to work with her on a project whose advocacy is matched by its tremendous artistry,” he said. “Katherine has taken something with which we are all generally familiar, yet through her outstanding vision, she has allowed us to more fully understand it in a terrifically creative and engaging way.”


    Following her graduation from Le Moyne, Katherine plans to return to Roanoke, and to continue her work at the city’s Mill Mountain Zoo, where for the past three years she has helped design and implement educational programs for children. Then she plans to apply to graduate school and to pursue a master’s degree in conservation or a related field and a doctorate in animal behavior. After that, she looks forward to launching a career that will focus on protecting animals and their habitats. Her ultimate professional goal is to inspire others to appreciate the variety of animal species that have long captivated her attention, and to prompt them to do whatever they can to preserve the earth and its resources. 


    “More than anything else, I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or as though they can’t make a difference,” she says. “Even something as simple as planting a butterfly garden or reusing or recycling a little more can make an impact. Every little bit helps.”


    Le Moyne’s Integral Honors Program is a community of students and faculty from across the campus who share a passion for deep, dynamic intellectual engagement and the challenges and rewards of scholarly inquiry. Students apply to the Program in the spring of their senior year of high school and enter Le Moyne as Integral Honors students in their first semester. There are sometimes a limited number of spots available for current students and transfer students to apply during the fall semester of their first year of study at Le Moyne. Students from all majors are welcome to become members of the Integral Honors community.



    Category: Student Voices