Daily File Photo, Juliet Farmer
On their way back to Minnesota from a February race in San Diego, the Gophers had a layover in Colorado, where an underclassman looked out the airport windows, staring at the mountainous scenery.
Then, senior Lynn Hodnett sat down with her.
“They started this really intense discussion about hiking and all of the … places that they’ve been,” junior Kylie Andersen said. “They go on and on … sharing stories about what they like about hiking and what they love about the mountains.”
Hodnett is one of Minnesota’s strongest rowers, but her passion for the outdoors stretches beyond regattas. The senior loves anything that has to do with nature and hopes to be a wildlife biologist after graduation.
“Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to work with animals and be outside. I just didn’t really realize until college that I could actually have that as a job,” Hodnett said. “I love being outside, racing in the rain … [though] the sleet sometimes isn’t very fun. It definitely makes you appreciate little things in your life, like hot running water and dry clothes.”
Hodnett described her ideal job as being able to hike every day and learn about mammals.
Last summer, that’s exactly what she did.
The St. Paul native ventured north to Lake Itasca for a May-term course through the College of Biological Sciences.
The classes covered everything from identifying birds by their calls to learning how to humanely trap rodents and other small mammals for scientific purposes.
“Lynn absolutely loves, loves animals,” said junior ecology, evolution and behavior major and friend Grace Rexroat, who also took the course. “She works so hard, and she’s always the first one to want to get a bird out of the net or handle a rodent out of the trap. She’s so good in the field, and she’s not afraid to get down and dirty.”
Once the day’s classes ended and others huddled around the campfire or retreated to their cabins, Hodnett and Rexroat stayed outdoors.
“Lynn, being on the rowing team, loves being on the water and loves canoeing and kayaking,” Rexroat said. “So, we’d go on little kayaking trips on the weekends and in the evenings.”
Fast-forward nearly a year and Hodnett has less than two months of competitive rowing left. She said she’d like to pick it up as a hobby later in life, but she needs to focus on her career first.
“I know I’ll miss it. It’s been a huge chunk of my life,” Hodnett said.
Once she’s rowed her final race in a Gophers uniform, Hodnett said she plans on working in the field for a year to gain experience and become a better candidate for graduate school.
Hodnett hopes to be accepted to a project in the Sierra Nevada mountain range to exercise her passion for the outdoors and biology.
“The world is a huge place, and I’m a very small part of it,” Hodnett said. “It’s just very humbling to be in large mountains and realize that even though I’m one person, I can have an impact on trying to keep this environment at the beauty it has already.”