Hometown: Stow, OH
Jess is currently a graduate student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science where she studies marine conservation. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Organismal Biology/Psychology from Kent State University in 2014. Jess has obtained a variety of field experiences through conservation-related projects working with marine megafauna and imperiled species in Florida, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas. She has extensive experience as an environmental educator and enjoys opportunities to foster awareness through community outreach events. Jess is excited to continue her passion for sea turtle research on Buck Island while also immersing herself in the coastal ecosystems and beauty of St. Croix!
- What is your favorite part about the project so far?
The intimate, raw moments we share with these critically endangered species every night, for sure. Having the opportunity to take a glimpse into these animals’ natural lives is incredibly special and an experience I feel so fortunate to have. The bioluminescent waters and killer night skies are a close second.
- Why do you think conservation is important?
Conservation safeguards biodiversity and thus is the very basis by which a successful and healthy system thrives. I think one of the fundamental reasons why conservation holds such great importance on this planet is the buffer it creates to drastic environmental changes and species survivorship as a whole. Not only is conservation inherently beneficial for the species we are taking efforts to protect, but these species are impacting humans (both directly and indirectly) and every other relationship present on this planet. I think a greater understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation is in our best interest to promote future stewardship, ensure sustainable livelihoods, and protect our resources that sustain life. As a species with so much power, I think we have a moral obligation to ensure the proper protection and management of our resources on this planet.
- What do you hope to get out of this experience?
I look forward to the opportunity to continue to learn and progress as a conservationist, as an individual, and as a teammate. Throughout the duration of this project, I hope to grasp a better understanding of the challenges associated with resource management and conservation strategies outside of the mainland. I hope to share my knowledge and passion with the community while also networking and learning from the diverse group of individuals around me. I hope for long-lasting friendships, a diversity of new experiences, and plenty of adventures along the way.