Today, we hear from graduating senior Jenna Grace, a triple major in Community & Environmental Planning, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, and Geography, all within the School of Earth & Environment. From Stratford, NJ (Camden County), Jenna works at Scotland Run Nature Trail in Gloucester County, NJ.
What is your experience like with being a triple major?
“It’s just like the normal workload. All three of my majors are in the same department, so the classes overlap quite a bit. They all kind of blend together in the way that we talk about, like how humans are affecting the planet and ways that we can solve that.”
What got you into studying the environment and trying to make a change in the world?
“Growing up I spent a lot of time outside. I spent like a lot of time just exploring the world around me and having an interest in it. It was always a big thing in my house to respect the planet,and to respect the world around you. So, I decided to pursue it as a career, and I feel like I made the right choice.”
What has your experience been like studying different parts of the world?
“I think it really helps to just take what you’re learning in these classes and apply it globally. It doesn’t just apply to the United States, it applies to everywhere in the world. I just find it very interesting.”
Can you describe your experience with the Scotland Run Nature Center?
“I am a field technician here, so I help with animal husbandry and with nature center tours. I help with our events and programs that we have here in the summer. I am actually directing our summer camps. So, I help keep this place in order, feed the animals, make sure everyone’s healthy and everyone’s happy. My additional work responsibilities include Bluebird monitoring, which we’re going to start pretty soon.”
What does a day in your life look like at the Scotland Run Nature Center?
“My day to day here is I come in, I start my day with feeding the animals. I do wellness checks, to make sure everyone’s happy and healthy again. I also do maintenance on the tanks; I make sure everything’s clean. No two days are the same here, so that can include getting ready for events that are coming up, such as Nature at Night or Nature Tots. Nature at Night is where we have a presenter come in with live animals or something to educate the public on the chosen topic. Nature Tots is when we have kids coming in with their parents and we do a little presentation for them or a little craft. There’s always like a theme for that day.It’s usually busier in the summer, where I’ll be doing a lot more with camps and training new volunteers.”
What are you taking from enrolling and applying for your job here?
“I’ve applied a lot of the things that I learned in my sustainability classes, especially this one class that I had called Planet in Peril with Professor Richard Federman. Essentially, it was an Environmental Science and the 21st Century course. That went into how humans are really affecting the environment. The majors I have chosen to study helped as well. I was able to apply that here and give people some context, like ‘Oh, this is why this is happening or this is why we should care about water quality.’ This is why we should care about the world that we live in.”
What do you feel is the importance of having a place like this for people to come and explore nature that isn’t polluted so much by rural or suburban America?
“So I think that the importance of this place is that people can see what is actually around them. That’s not all concrete and not all housing and not all cars like what New Jersey once was. We could still have this and it’s just a chance for people to kind of connect with their local environment. It’s a really great feeling when we see kids coming in here and enjoying their experience here, smiling, and just showing interest. I try to teach kids about the animals that we have, why they’re important and why we should show an interest in them.”
What is your dream job within your field?
“I feel like I’m in my dream job right now. You know, I just love working at a park. I love taking care of the animals. I love helping with all of our events. I love what I do here and I would love to do it for the rest of my life. I would also like to continue an environmental education, whether that’s teaching the public or getting involved with a conservation organization and possibly continue working with animals at a place like that. That’s something I would like to continue to do.”
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Written by Jordyn Dauter, sophomore dance & elementary education major