Hi everyone! My name is Jonathan Shimizu. I’m going into my sophomore year here at Purdue majoring in Forestry with a concentration in Forest Science as well as a minor in Environmental Policy. I’m excited to be part of the tree research team this summer with the REEU!
I was born in the bay area of California, a region surrounded by redwoods and salty coasts. As a kid, I spent my formative years wandering around Big Basin State Park and getting too close to the tide pools along the beach. Later, I spent a few years living in Montana and Idaho where I fell in love with pines, snow, and mountains. Here, Glacier National Park became my backyard and playground. I eventually moved to Indiana around my pre-teen years and experienced a major culture shock. I went from winding mountain roads and seaside freeways to potholes and cornfields.
Even though my new home was a little flatter, I tried to make the best out of it. I struggled to find the same passion for the outdoors here as I did back out on the west coast. I joined Scouts BSA at 13 years old and through the program I fell back in love with nature. The camping trips, backpacking excursions, and high-adventure trips rekindled my love for the outdoors and helped me realize how crucial nature is to my overall health and happiness. Hiking on the trails and sleeping in the woods helped me reconnect to nature and my mental health. After rediscovering my love for nature, I knew I wanted to work to preserve the natural world. Instead of applying for art school, I decided to look for outdoor conservation jobs and work backwards to find a suitable degree. Through some research, I found the Forestry major offered through Purdue University and immediately knew I needed to apply.
As a student in Forestry, I plan to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and find work as a forester. Eventually, I hope to work as a park ranger out on the west coast and educate tourists and locals on the importance of conservation and sustainability. If I continue onto graduate school, I hope to conduct research on redwood physiology back in California. Specifically, I am interested in studying environmental limiting factors to tree height and finding ways to encourage trees to grow taller than ever before. With my Environmental Policy minor, I plan to work with non-profits in an effort to promote sustainability and prevent efforts to destroy habitats and wilderness areas.
Through REEU, I hope to understand what field work and research is like. Joining REEU as an incoming sophomore will provide me with a head start on research and data collection methods crucial to my future. My degree plan involves undergraduate research, so gaining as much experience as possible through internship opportunities is crucial to me. Being able to understand how research projects function and working with a team will not only benefit me as an upperclassman, but in graduate school as well. If research is in my future, then REEU is the gateway. I’m most looking forward to working with my partner and fellow interns throughout these eight weeks. I’m excited to be out in the woods conducting research on topics which interest me and learning new things. Overall, I am just happy to be back in nature and thankful for the opportunity to develop professional skills.