A wildlife agent is turning the devastation of the historic 2016 floods into inspiration.
That sense of purpose landed her at the top of her class.
“I work in Winn, Grant, Rapides, and then Avoyelles [parishes] here,” said Suni Nelson, an agent for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, while pointing at a map of the State of Louisiana.
Before becoming an agent, Nelson grew up in Lafayette where she first developed a love for the outdoors.
“I grew up playing outside. I was a tomboy. And, so, I think that’s where it came from. I spent a lot time [at my grandfather’s hunting camp],” said Nelson.
It wasn’t until working for the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office that she learned she could turn that into a career.
“I met a game warden, and we were talking, and he was telling me a little bit about it. And, I was thinking this could be something really cool. This could be something I really love,” said the Lafayette native.
Then, the historic floods of 2016 happened, devastating an area she called home.
“That had a big impact on me. That was something I said, ‘I want to do that. I want to help out. I want to be a part of that,'” said Nelson.
Nelson began her journey becoming an agent, eventually earning the title of Top Cadet of her class upon graduating from the academy this past January. It wasn’t without merit; at about 60 sit-ups a minute, she humbly admits other potential agents had to keep up.
“I gave them a run for their money. There’s no doubt about that,” said the wildlife agent while smiling.
From the water to the woods, Nelson says what she loves most about being an agent is that every day is different.