I don't know that you can ever predict where you will end up or what you'll be doing. I had an interest in animals and the environment my whole life. My bachelor’s degree was in animal sciences and I volunteered in the Peace Corps in Niger for two years, working in small animal husbandry.
Soon after the Peace Corps, I entered the Fellows/USA environmental education program at Florida Institute of Technology, which was a mix of education classes and environmental and science classes. The program was a perfect fit for me since I could take hard science classes and education classes—most importantly, learning about the field and history of environmental education.
I was able to take some really interesting classes, including a field course in Costa Rica and a biological modeling class that used computer programs to predict events. The four core classes were excellent and gave me a much better understanding of educating youth.
Having the support network of the Fellows/USA program was really important. Whereas in my undergraduate experience I felt like I was a number, in graduate school I felt like I was a person. I loved the core values we all shared in the program.
Technically, for my Fellows internship, I was a U.S. Department of Agriculture agent, but we dabbled in all fields with our assignments. I assisted with restoration of the land projects, tree planting, and an environmental youth camp. As I was finishing my last semester for my master’s degree, I took a job as a naturalist with a nonprofit organization, the Environmental Learning Center. I mainly taught school groups, but also taught adults in the Florida Master Naturalist Program, ran a middle school club, and piloted a middle school environmental education program.
For the past two years, I've been working as a 4-H agent for the University of Florida, specializing in animal science, leadership, and environmental education youth programming. I have several projects I’m involved in, including environmental education summer camps, an interdisciplinary program for educators called Project Learning Tree, and a botanical gardens program.
I still attend RPCV meetings and try to assist in any way for the Fellows/USA program, although it is difficult when working full–time. I supplied some materials from Niger for Peace Corps Week celebrations this year and represented the Peace Corps at Florida Institute of Technology international festivals. I also take the time, when I can, to speak with other RPCV groups in the area, as well as to any other groups wanting to hear about the Peace Corps experience.