Long Misty Bio:
My name is Misty McNellis. The first five years of my life were spent in Willow, Alaska. My parents had a cabin on a lake, and I have many memories of that area. When I was around three, my mother opened her own store—The Tackle Shack. It was a small store next to Montana Creek. She sold fishing gear, fishing licenses, and groceries to the people in the area, with the majority of revenue coming from tourists. The store was operational during the summer time. So, from the time I was three until the time I was ten, that store and the surrounding area was my summer home. I spent my summers playing in the river and surrounding woods. I’d ride my bike for hours, pick raspberries, collect rocks, and climb any tree that could hold me up.
My mother remarried when I was nine, a year before the lease ran up on the store. When my mom remarried, we moved to Meadow Lakes with the man that would later adopt me and become my father. Even though the summers at the creek were in the past now, we had many acres of land that I could play on. Plus, there was a dog: Gwinney. She was a black flat-coated retriever. She was very sweet. Unfortunately, she passed away early due to cancer.
In sixth grade, my parents allowed me to get a puppy (which was amazing seeing as how I already had a cat, multiple fish tanks, lizards, a gecko, frogs, crabs, birds, and rabbits). I went to a rescue day at the local pet food shop, and I found her: Pixie. I saw her from across the store; a little boy was holding her. I walked over and hovered around the boy that was holding her until he put her down. Once he did, I picked her up and didn’t let her go. She’s been my best friend ever since.
Before graduating high school, I was looking into attending Humboldt State University. However, just before graduating, I found out that I was awarded the UA Scholars award—which was a good chunk of change. The catch was that I’d have to go to school in Alaska. I weighed the options and decided being financially secure was more important than going out of state. So, I enrolled in UAA. I completed two years there before transferring to UAF to finish my degree. I graduated from UAF in 2010 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences.
Of my four years in college, two stand out: my sophomore year and my senior year. My sophomore year was very difficult for me. That year, I was taking some tough classes including physics, calculus II, and cell and molecular biology. I remember spending up to six hours a day on calculus alone. I’m sure glad that year is over. My senior year was completely opposite: it was great! By my senior year, my class load wasn’t so hard. I was only taking a few classes, and would spend around five hours a day in the rec center rock climbing, lifting, and learning jujitsu. By my senior year, I also had time for friends—not just study groups. My senior year in college was one of the most fun, relaxing times of my life.
To pay for college, I worked for fish and game during the summer (the scholarship helped, too, but not as much as working). My job allowed me to spend the whole summer (May-September) outside while getting experience collecting data and working with live animals. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer job.
Shortly after graduating college, the time came where I needed to start thinking about grad school. If I were to become a biologist (my goal at the time), I would have to get at least a Master’s degree. I found myself dragging my feet, putting off things, and generally just not giving it my all, which was really unlike me. So, I took some time to reflect and realized that I was about to pay around $40,000.00 to wait 5 years to MAYBE get a job where I spent almost all my time in an office writing reports, grants, and budgets just to make around $50,000.00 a year if I’m lucky. Is that really what I want? Ever since I was five, I wanted to be a biologist (or paleontologist), but as I grew up, I realized the reality of the situation. What I wanted—to work in the field—was typically the lowest position. The hands on stuff is what generally pays the lowest, and it was usually only temporary. I’ve heard too many biologists and foresters mention how much they miss the field and how that’s all they wanted to do when they entered the field. I was reaching this point—the point of office work. I didn’t like it. So, I thought about the lifestyle I wanted to live, the money and time it would require, and the cost of obtaining that training. I talked to people around me to gain insights regarding a variety of career fields, and here I am, in education. Teaching (in Alaska) would let me live the life I wanted, and the degree wouldn’t cost too much to get. So, I’m planning on finishing up my Master’s in December and am hoping for the best.
Misty Summed Up:
Love: Dogs, my family, my friends, being outside, animals, plants, biology, natural healing, fresh food, my worm farm, cleanliness, anatomy and physiology, rock climbing (although I haven’t gotten to do it much lately), working on my camper van (in progress), sleeping, traveling, dancing (not professionally), the sun, and the tropics (but I also love Alaska so I’m living here).
Goals: Be a successful educator, find a balance between work and personal life (it has been too much on the work side for the past 6 years..), get back in shape (physically healthy) because all this school work can really make your muscles shrink, finish my camper van, play fetch with my dog and cuddle her every day, pay off my student loans, pay off the jeep, go on a cross country trip in the camper van once it’s finished, make sure my family and friends know I’m thankful for all the support they have given me, get a legit ultralight sleeping system, go see more live music, and grow my own veggies for the year (once I get some my own land).
Misty’s Online Life:
Currently, I can only be found online at two locations: Facebook and Pinterest. A couple years after I finally got a Facebook, Instagram started becoming a thing (yes, I’m talking about THIS long ago). By that time, I had already seen how involved people were with their online life. I would be hanging out with people, and they would be spending so much time on their phones that no real connections could be made with the people around them. At that point, I vowed to not join any other social media sites. I would stay with Facebook until it became the next MySpace, and then I would be done. Also, I vowed to not spend much time online, period. I am already forced to be in front of a computer so much (with school and work) that I feel like I’m missing out on real life. When I’m 90, I want to look back at all the amazing memories and experiences I’ve had with the people (and dogs) around me—online fads, videos, or social media won’t matter. Therefore, I want to live my life as free from technology as I possibly can (which is unfortunately not as much as I would like). —Another reason my summer job in remote Alaska is such a good fit for me: I don’t have reception, and I have to take a boat to the nearest lodge for internet, I love it, it makes you get real human interactions and connections… something I think this society is losing—