Future of SAF: Rebeca Rodriguez

July 3, 2019 

Continuing with our profiles of up-and-coming SAF members, this month we are featuring Rebeca Rodriguez. She is an undergraduate at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) and will graduate this summer with a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a concentration in forest recreation management. In 2016, she joined SAF and was selected as an SAF Diversity Scholar in 2018. She also served as the treasurer of SFA’s SAF student chapter for two years.

In her own words, Rodriguez describes her path toward a career in forestry and recreation.

How she developed an appreciation for the outdoors

While I was growing up in Houston, Texas, my parents never took my brother and me to any state parks or national parks; even going to the city park was a rare thing, because they didn’t feel comfortable going to those places. Being Hispanic and not really knowing a lot of English, it was hard for my parents to go to one of these parks, because oftentimes there wasn’t someone who spoke Spanish there. In all honesty, growing up, I disliked being outdoors, because it was hot and humid. I didn’t have an appreciation for nature, because I had never experienced it enough to develop a connection.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I developed this connection to nature. I was in an AP Environmental Science class, for which we got extra credit if we joined the Envirothon club. Envirothon has four main sections: aquatic ecology, soil/land use, wildlife, and forestry. Ironically, I was the person who specialized in forestry. Because of this club, I was able to learn about these four topics through hands-on experiences outside of a classroom setting. This was the first time I ever touched a fish or held a frog. Our teacher taught us how to classify soil by touching it, but also tasting it if needed, and I learned how to identify trees and their uses. This is what helped me figure out that I wanted to major in forestry.

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