My name is Jennifer Gilbert and I am a senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). I will be graduating from the Environmental Studies program in May 2020 with minors in Applied Climate Science; Environmental Education; Society and the Environment. My hometown is Omaha, Nebraska.
Entering my fourth and final year of undergraduate education at UNL and debating how to spend my last summer break before being thrust into “the adult world”, I stumbled upon the REEU- Diversity in Faces, Spaces and Places of Natural Resources Sciences program. Initially, I will admit I was skeptical of this program and whether I would be the right fit for such an academically focused and research heavy initiative. As I debated the pros and cons of applying for this program, it dawned on me that the main goal and objective of this program was right there in the title—“Diversity”. The world is full of it and the opportunity to expand my experiences, connections, knowledge, and skills through a diverse group of intellectuals, cohorts, field work, and research was an opportunity I was not going to pass up. Throughout the application and interview process, my exploration of the program, Purdue University, and the individuals involved were more than enough to fully convince me of my desire to participate and be apart of such an incredibly beneficial and unique experience.
I initially became interested in the natural resource and environmental field of study when I spent time in the Dominican Republic for a service immersion program and recognized the complete devastation and irreversible damage that had been done to many of our planet’s resources, species, and natural landscapes. However, it was not until after I spent a summer living and working in nature that I truly recognized, appreciated, and developed an intense desire to work with and educate others on the environment. I had the unforgettable opportunity of working on the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) trail crew the summer following my freshman year of college. This experience led me to develop an irreversible love for the outdoors. As such, I was confident that I wanted to spend the rest of my academic, professional, and personal life learning, working in, and exploring the natural world.
Fast forward to my final summer before graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, and I have found myself with the incredible honor of serving as one of ten research interns for the REEU program at Purdue University. I am beyond excited and humbled to be apart of this initiative and to begin the exhilarating process that is research. My personal focus and interest this summer will be working with trees. As someone who has not had a lot of experience with research previously, I have found the resources, knowledge-base, and incredibly supportive and patient attitudes of those involved in mentoring this program (graduate students and faculty members) to be very reassuring and encouraging.
The world continues to grow, develop, and evolve at an incredibly fast pace. The natural world that supports our existence and survival is struggling to keep up with the unrealistic demands and irresponsible consumption brought on by society. My greatest goal and hope for this planet is that the inhabitants can recognize and react to the connection and impact they have on the environment, continuously transforming and improving the methods in which they interact with the earth and its resources. I am confident that this REEU program will aid me in exploring and pursuing potential interests, careers, and opportunities within the natural resources field. I look forward to learning from the knowledgeable and experienced mentors and participating in hands on field work and research that will provide me with invaluable experience and skills for the future.