Rachel completed her M.S. this semester and is graduating in December 2014. She has been a productive, enthusiastic, and wonderful student to advise. On behalf of the entire lab, I wish her the very best in future endeavors! Below, she summarizes her experiences this semester and her future plans.
This semester has been extremely busy for me. I ended my second field season in early August and defended my thesis at the end of September. After defending, I took a short study abroad course in tropical ecology and conducted vegetation surveys in the British Virgin Islands. I just returned from a Thanksgiving camping trip to Big Bend National Park and am working on submitting manuscripts for publication. I am also just finishing up filming for a short documentary on which I am collaborating with Wild Lens, Inc.
In roughly two weeks, I will be graduating from Texas Tech University with my Master’s in Natural Resources Management. It stuns me how quickly time has passed since I arrived here. My experiences at Tech have jettisoned me to a new level of maturity and professionalism. I am looking forward to re-entering the conservation world with a new suite of skills and ideas. My long-term goal is to be a research ecologist with USGS. I want to conduct research to understand impacts of fire in the western US and how climate change and land use change may affect these.
My next step is to join a prescribed fire crew with The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. I will primarily be based out of Mobile, but our crew will chase good fire weather around the state. We will be collaborating with USFS, private land owners, and timber industry to administer fire in habitats where it historically occurred. Working in prescribed fire will give me a greater understanding of fire behavior and will provide valuable networking opportunities. After finishing up in Alabama, I plan on working a handcrew position in wildland fire suppression in my home state of Washington.
|British Virgin Islands (C) Jess East 2014|
I have been nothing but blessed in my time in Lubbock. I was adopted by a wonderful family, the Elliotts, who have let me live in their home and ride their horses like I was one of their own. I also have been blessed by an incredibly supportive family back home. I know y’all are tired of me constantly moving because of work (and my wanderlust), but I appreciate that you have supported my education and goals. I have also made some pretty fantastic friends here in Lubbock. The students in the Department of Natural Resources Management are incredible people. I have never met so many good-hearted, fun-loving people in one place. I would also like to thank my co-advisors, Dr. Verble and Dr. Perry, for their support through graduate school. Dr. Verble has helped me see there is room for women in fire ecology, we just have to be brave enough to stake a claim. This has been a whirlwind trip for me and I am looking forward to the next adventure.