GEM Environmental is excited to welcome one of our new members to the team! Zac White is one of our Youth Conservation Interns working as a Range Technician in cooperation with the BLM at the Hassayampa Field Office.
Zac was born and raised in Arizona and spent most of his childhood outside. He was a Boy Scout and felt lucky to have the opportunity to go and explore the state by camping, hiking, fishing, and swimming in beautiful parks and trails. This time outside gave him an appreciation for the natural world and piqued his interest in having a career studying and protecting it. Zac began his college education at Arizona State University as a 1st generation college student. At ASU he floated between majors in Biochemistry, Biology and Sustainability until he found his calling in Ecology. Taking classes in each of these STEM majors broadened his horizons on understanding nature, how we interact with it and how we can help protect it. He hopes to turn his love of nature into a career protecting it. Welcome to the team Zac!
How did you hear about this service opportunity?
I contacted the Bureau of Land Management to see if there were any volunteer opportunities in their organization to increase my experience and professional contacts. I got into contact with Lawrence who recommended me to apply for the internship here at GEM.
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I graduated ASU in 2019 with a degree in Applied Biology: Natural Resource Ecology. This degree focuses on the management and sustainable uses of resources of land such as timber, land usage and fisheries. During my undergrad I worked in the Lewis lab working under PhD student Jeff Haight studying the effects of urbanization on the wildlife in the greater Phoenix area. I also Interned with the Arizona Game and Fish Department working under the Wildlife division to monitor Flat Tailed Horned Lizards in the Yuma desert.
My area of interest is studying the effects of urbanization on wildlife communities and their changes over time. I want to further innovate and push new GIS and remote sensing technology to more effectively collect data, and model for future trends.
What do you plan to accomplish during your service term with GEM?
The primary reason I chose to apply for the GEM Youth Internship was the opportunity to gain professional work experience in the field that aligns with my career goals. I believe that academic knowledge is incomplete without being able to apply it in a professional role. I want to learn from experienced leaders that can show me how to excel in a federal agency and private sector environment. When I complete my internship I want to feel that I am competitive in the environmental science field. ASU's Ecology program was comparatively small compared to their Life Science programs cohort and there were few connections to be made with other students. By working with other students or recent graduates I hope to gain new connections with my co-interns.
What are your career goals?
My career goals are to find a position in a private or government entity that advocates for the preservation and sustainable use of our lands its resources. I would ultimately like to see myself leading a team to work on environmental projects and being able to work out in the field.
Do you plan to continue your education? If so, what programs or school are you looking into and what is the highest degree you plan to earn?
As of this moment, I am not looking to continue my education as I want to gain experience in the field. However, once if there are opportunities in the future to further my education, I would take the opportunity to earn a master’s degree. To further a career skill, I would get my master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems. To challenge myself I would pursue a MS in Biology and conduct my own research study in a topic dealing with urbanization.
Have you had any other internship or service opportunities before this? If so, how do you believe internships have benefited you so far?
I interned with the Arizona Game and Fish Department in the summer of 2019. This internship was a great opportunity to show me how a professional environmentalist position would be on a government level. I feel this position started me into the transitionary period from college student to young professional because of the work involved. Being a state employee wearing a state department uniform driving a state vehicle showed me how to act, speak, and present myself to a higher standard than I have been used to. I hope to take this experience from this previous internship and apply it when working with GEM and the BLM.
To learn more about Zac White check out his profile on LinkedIn.