Before this program, I was loosely considering pursuing a STEM degree in college, but I wasn't sure if that was the right path for me since I have historically been a weak math student. After going through the program, I decided that I definitely wanted to major in STEM.
What is your current job?
I currently work as a student laborer with the East Bay Parks Service in Oakland, California. In my job, I support park rangers with any tasks they have to complete, which include painting, pulling invasive plants, mowing wild grass, cleaning up dumpsites, metalworking, and other miscellaneous tasks.
What inspired you to pursue a career in your current field?
I decided to pursue a job with the East Bay Parks Service because I wanted to work outside, meet outdoorsy people, and most of all help my community. I live close to the park where I work, and so when I do my job, I'm helping maintain something that my community and neighborhood care about.
How has the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program helped you grow personally and/or professionally?
The biggest skill set that I gained from the B-WET project was the ability to properly analyze data and organize it in a way that tells a story. That skill has been really helpful in a lot of my classes and jobs that I had after the program was over.
How has your view on your future career changed before/after participating in a B-WET project?
Before this program, I was loosely considering pursuing a STEM degree in college, but I wasn't sure if that was the right path for me since I have historically been a weak math student. After going through the program, I decided that I definitely wanted to major in STEM. I took Advanced Placement® (AP) Environmental Science and AP Statistics to dig deeper into those interests and strengthen my math skills, and now I am going to be studying geology at University of California Davis next year!
Has B-WET changed the way you think about the environment?
B-WET has definitely changed the way I think about the environment. I never had any formal education about climate change, and despite my parents believing in it, climate change was rarely discussed at home. The B-WET program helped bring a lot of those issues to light for me and I am definitely more educated as a result of that.
What advice do you have for someone interested in STEM or environmental careers?
For anyone who is a high school student, I would recommend taking AP Environmental Science, which gives a really interesting overview of a lot of Earth's natural processes and climate change-related issues. I would also recommend taking classes like AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics, because those classes will cover freshman prerequisite classes if you score well on the AP exam, and will give you a better understanding of critical math and science concepts. For anyone beyond high school, I would say that it is never too late to get involved and learn more about the environmental scene. The park I work at has a huge group of really dedicated volunteers that help us out a lot, and that's a great way to get started and get more into local environmental jobs and opportunities.