Natalie Vermeulen
Student Writer

Name: Tyler McFeaters
Year: Junior
Major: Environmental Science

Get to know Tyler, a junior at Messiah who’s passionate about track and environmental science. Find him running the 1500 or doing research on the aquaponics system in the greenhouse—either way, he’ll be having fun and using his talents to serve God and His people.

What’s your major and why did you choose it?

I’m an environmental science major. In high school, I enjoyed biology and chemistry, and I also knew I liked the outdoors and I wanted to spend more time outdoors, not just stuck in a lab or in an office. A lot of my hobbies are outdoors too: like running—outdoors obviously—and mountain biking, hunting, fishing. I definitely wanted to use my career to help conserve the environment for future generations, so other people get to enjoy what we get to enjoy.

 

Have you had the opportunity to do outdoorsy things at Messiah?

Yeah, my favorite class has been probably my desert ecology class that I went on over J-term. We went with Dr. Foster and Professor Erikson, and three weeks we [went] throughout the southwest of the United States. We started in Arizona, hiked the Grand Canyon, and then did some desert ecology stuff in Anza-Borrego State Park in California. We got to see a lot of bighorn sheep, studied them for a few days and did a little bit of our own ecology research there. Then we went to a desert museum in Arizona and finished in Texas. We hiked to the highest point in Texas too (Guadalupe Peak); that was a highlight. We had some memorable hikes for sure. Probably my favorite one is when we were hiking in a slot canyon in Utah called Buckskin Gulch. It was really narrow, and we were hiking and you could poke both hands on the wall at the same time. It was a little claustrophobic, but I liked climbing around in there. Then it started to get dark so everyone else started turning back, but me and a couple other adventurous kids on the trip and Dr. Foster, we kept going and we actually made it to the very top of the canyon. We had to climb up this really steep bank, but we couldn’t do it because it was loose gravel, so we had to climb up this juniper root—we were pulling ourselves up this tree. That was a highlight.

 

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wasn’t really sure. I knew for environmental science, being a park ranger would be super cool or something like that. Now I’m more into research and I’ve actually gone into agricultural research now too. I also used to think getting into missions somehow would be cool. Doing some kind of agricultural missions is something that I would still keep in mind, like going abroad to help farmers in less-developed nations. I think that would be pretty cool.

 

Have you ever done any missions?

Outside the country, I’ve done one mission trip. It was actually through AROMA on campus, and it was last May. We got to go to Uganda for 10 or 11 days. That was mostly sports ministry, so we started off in Kampala, which is the capital city. There we did some sports clinic things for the staff throughout Kampala, and then me and Kirk Mummert showed them some running drills and things like that too. Then we went up to the northern part of Uganda that was more rural, and we hosted a community day up there. That included a 5K, which was probably my favorite part because we got to race against some Ugandans. They beat us, they were really good.

Whenever me and Kirk race we wear headbands that they made in Uganda. There’s a place there called Christine’s House, and it’s where they take girls who have been in sex trafficking or who have been sexually abused. They’ll have them there for rehab, and then they teach them skills so that they can go back into the community and have a job right away, and be able to make money for their families. So we support them every time we race—that’s one way we try to remember them all and remember to pray for them.

 

What’s something that you get excited about?

The thing I’m most passionate about right now is probably track or cross country. I spend so much time with my teammates, running every day and training really hard. Without track I wouldn’t have met all my teammates here, they’re my best friends for sure. I’ve been rooming with them the last two years. Especially in the distance [team], I think this year we’ve done the best actually getting to know everyone. But cross country is always way closer, just because we have an entire season together too.

 

Do you have a piece of advice you live by?

I feel like I could think of something better, but it is what I tell the freshmen all the time—it’s the first rule of college, obviously. The first rule of college is: do fun things when fun things are happening. Because homework can wait—it might be procrastinating, but you only get to go to college once. And it’s going really fast.

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