A big day for student wildlife photographer

Mason Maron holding a coug flag.

Mason Maron is one of the most interesting people in the Daily Evergreen newsroom. He is graduating Saturday with a major in wildlife ecology and conservation sciences and a minor in forestry.

He is the current photo editor for the Daily Evergreen and the former president of the Wildlife Society Chapter in Pullman.

“I got into wildlife through wildlife photography. Obviously, I’ve kind of based my life around it, because I’m about to graduate with a degree in wildlife. It’s something that I really enjoy. And I really enjoy nature, so something about capturing it in photos and capturing those moments I find fun. When you get a nice photo it’s very satisfying and very gratifying,” Maron said.

He was originally thinking of going into mechanical engineering, but around his junior year of high school, he discovered wildlife photography and did a 180 his senior year. Maron declined a scholarship from Autodesk, a 3D modeling company in Portland, Oregon, to pursue wildlife studies in college.

Maron’s portfolio features a wide degree of things. He also speaks Spanish and studied abroad in southern Chile in spring of 2022. He said that his Spanish language skills were rusty when he first got there but eventually was confident enough to speak to the people around him.

He explained how competitive birding truly is. There is a competition called a “Big Year,” which people take very seriously, setting aside 10s of $1000s and they are ready to fly across the country at the drop of a hat to see a rare bird.

Maron did a “big day” in Washington a couple of years ago. He traveled all over Washington state to see as many species of birds as he could in one day. He set the state record for individuals at 193 bird species in one day.

“I didn’t go to sleep that night. I stayed up the whole night listening for owls to start off, and then at sunrise I was at the Puget Sound and then I drove all throughout Washington, like through the Cascades, and I think the furthest east I got was Othello. The entire day was just driving places to see birds,” Maron said.

Maron’s wildlife photos have been published in a multitude of different publications around the world, including three or four field guides, a few research publications, magazines, and the Cornell Lab. He has been on the local news and has hopped on different podcasts to talk about wildlife and birds.

Maron is going to take a gap year before applying to graduate school. Following his graduation from WSU Pullman, his plan is to do a cross-country road trip, traveling down to the southernmost part of Texas and then to the upper peninsula of Michigan. He will then fly to Rhode Island and Connecticut, then back to Washington. After traveling, he hopes to work a winter field job, potentially in Hawaii or Antarctica.

Maron has high goals; his plan is to get his master’s degree and then a PhD.

“Cornell would be nice, but it’s pretty competitive especially in that field because they have the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which is their bird lab. It has a low number of openings. It’s basically the number one place to study that in the world,” Maron said.

He went to WSU because of in-state tuition, scholarships, and the fact that his sister went here. He gave credit to his parents their supportive of him and his endeavors.

Maron has worked at the Daily Evergreen for five semester.

“I think some long nights spent in the newsroom helped form some bonds between the people in there and I hope that I can stay in touch with the people that I’ve worked with,” Maron said. “I think that it was a good experience and there’s definitely some good times and good memories looking back. Everybody kind of sitting and working late hours on a Wednesday.”

Letter from the writer:

When I first got started at the Evergreen it was very unconventional; I randomly took the job as the deputy sports editor and got placed in a desk right next to Mason. Our friendship has grown as the year has gone on, from mainly acquaintances to friends. He has been so kind to me and we have talked hours on hours about a wide-ranging amount of topics.

He is wildly interesting and is such a great person. I am proud to call him my friend and am happy to see him follow his dreams in wildlife.

By Trevor Junt, Daily Evergreen