“Wildlife has always been a passion. I was the kid in third grade who liked snakes and put them in my book bag, where my mom would find them later,” says John Cullum ’08, of his decision to attend Bucknell University for its animal behavior program.
The Morristown, N.J., native may have known what to study in college, but he wasn’t sure where he would end up with a dual major in animal behavior and studio art.
“It’s sort of funny that when I was at school I had an obscure background of majors. I wasn’t sure where it would take me at the time. My background at Bucknell really couldn’t have been any better for what I’m doing now,” says Cullum, who has found the best of both worlds as an associate producer for National Geographic Television and Film, the production company for the National Geographic Society.
“I wrangle the stories, and then I wrangle the crew to make the stories,” said Cullum. His first project as an associate producer was the Death of a Sea Monster film for National Geographic Channel’s Expedition Week, which aired in April. The project took him to the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway, with a camera crew to film excavations of ancient marine reptile skeletons.
Cullum’s next project, a natural history series investigating predators/prey dynamics around the world, will take him to Costa Rica, Romania and India.
The array of topics that require “wrangling” might be intimidating to some. Bears and wolves of Yellowstone, ichthyosaurs of the Jurassic Period and wasp training are just some of the subjects that Cullum has covered.
“Once you study a certain topic, you can get stuck studying it for the rest of your life,” he says. “The best part of what I do is I get to become a mini expert on the subjects that I’m working on. I don’t have to focus on just one thing.”
Cullum hasn’t abandoned his art background, either. He did several pen and ink illustrations for Professor Beth Capaldi Evans’ book Why Do Bees Buzz?
In the meantime, he has to track down a wasp wrangler in Central America. — Julie Dreese
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