Jessica Jeannetta Unearths the Path to Success

Oregon Ridge Nature Center

Jessica is a graduate of Frostburg State University where she earned her BS in Biology and a MS in Recreation & Park Management. Working in the field of environmental education gives her the opportunity to give back to the environment and the community by teaching the importance and appreciation to the natural world to a variety of audiences. She currently serves as a Community Supervisor/Naturalist at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center where she enjoys interacting with park visitors, students and volunteers. A native to Maryland, Jessie enjoys giving back to the natural environment that she grew up in. In her free time, Jessie enjoys making people laugh, spending time family and friends, following Maryland sports teams, and of course exploring the outdoors.

What motivated you or inspired you to go into your field?
Excellent science teachers that made that took the time to take their classes outside and on field trips to explore the environment. Their passion made learning fun, memorable and enjoyable. My experiences in science classes from elementary through high school inspired me to pursue a high education degree in the science field. I also spent a lot of time outdoors playing as a kid and my parents took me on vacations out in nature.

What were the first few steps you took to pursue your field in STEM?
After graduating high school I went to Frostburg State University where I studied to get my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science and a minor in Geography. During my undergraduate years I obtained internships and other volunteer opportunities to gain valuable field experience that inspired me to work in the field of environmental education and led me to my full time career.

Tell us about your job. What is the environment like in your workplace? What are some of your responsibilities?
I am currently the Community Supervisor at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center. I serve as the assistant director of the center, help park visitors, coordinate park volunteers, care for the center’s animals, maintain natural resources in the park, and lead environmental education based programs for school students and the general public. The center provides me the opportunity to do the things I am passionate such as interact with people, animals and teach. It also allows me to grow and challenge myself as an employee in a supervisory role.

What has been the most rewarding about your career?
Interacting with people and helping them to understand how their everyday choices are impacting the environment, so that they can make positive choices for their lives, community and environment moving forward.

What motto or core values do you live by?
I believe that if people find a connection and relevance with the environment that they will realize that their choices play an important role in their own future, community and the environment. That by being the example and sharing my knowledge I can have a positive impact on my community and the environment. Margaret Mead says it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

What kind of obstacles are in store for today’s young women? What are some words of advice you believe will help girls today overcome these obstacles?
The way I see it in today’s world there are obviously many obstacles facing women in the workforce (equal pay, promotions, balance of work and home, etc.). Instead of dwelling on the typical obstacles my challenge to the young women today is to not let obstacles impede your career. Let yourself be the biggest obstacle, challenge yourself, be professional, share your ideas and opinions, be the example, be the change.

My best advice is never give up on your goals and dreams, find a career you love and pursue it. Always be on the lookout for the next opportunity that will allow you to grow professionally and personally. Don’t be afraid to take a risk on a job that will challenge you in new ways and never stop learning.

Why is it important to close the gender gap in STEM fields. Why are education and inclusion for girls pursuing STEM necessary?
Women of the past have worked hard to pave the way for equality in the workforce but a gap still exists, it is up to women today and in the future to continue to make headway, to overcome the gaps and show the world that a woman can lead the way in STEM fields. Environmental issues and problems such as sea level rise, climate change, water and air pollution, habitat degradation, and species loss will continue to plague the world for years to come. The consequences of these issues does not care what gender you are, neither should the STEM fields that are being tasks to solve the problems. Working in the STEM field should be inclusive to men and women who are passionate about making a change for the environment for future generations and who are driven to help solve the problems to make the world a better place for humans and wildlife alike. Education is the key to success. The more knowledge you have that more equipped you will be and to solve problems that you may face in your career. You can achieve anything that you set your mind too, and can do the job regardless of your gender.

Have Anything in Common?