My fondest childhood memories involve being outside, either at my grandparents farm, the fields surrounding my house, or out in the woods. My brother and I would spend hours in the sandbox - building, crushing, and flooding; we would wander around the cow pasture using sticks to test the freshness of the cow “pies”; and once we even chased a rainbow through muddy fields in bare feet. Like many kids, my curiosity about the natural world was intense from the start. When I was 13 I decided to be a marine biologist while on a whale watching expedition on the East Coast. Although my focus shifted to freshwater instead of marine science in college, my professional goals changed very little through my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife.
Throughout my career as a biologist I have sought out opportunities to facilitate community outreach and involvement. To increase community awareness of natural resource issues, I spearheaded an experiential environmental outreach program in conjunction with local schools for students and their families. The program was designed to first educate the students, and then help the students share what they learned with their families in outdoor experiential activities. Not only did this show us as instructors what the students had learned, it also energized and empowered the students to pass their new knowledge on to their parents and families.
I was excited to learn about the Robert Noyce STEM Scholars Program at USF not only for myself, but also for other STEM professionals for whom the classroom is an intimidating objective. Although we may be proficient in our field of study, scientists are not always the best communicators. I look forward to strengthening my teaching skills, and eventually to be in a classroom sharing my knowledge and experiences with a diverse student population.