CALS Alumna Highlight: Cecilia Lepa
Cecilia Lepa graduated with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in forest resources and conservation. She is currently an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Southern Oregon’s Education Service District’s College and Careers for All/STEAM working to build and create the first fire ecology education curriculum adapted specifically for Southern Oregon.
What first sparked your interest in forest resources and conservation?
I initially joined the CALS because I had an interest in the environment and working in natural resources. I was considering changing my major again and one of my friends recommended I look into forest resources and conservation.
Was there a particular CALS faculty member that was influential in your career path?
Dr. Taylor Stein was my graduate advisor for my master’s degree and a mentor throughout my undergraduate career. He genuinely cares about all of his students and their success. He always encouraged us to “make the world a better place” which is why I’m taking a year to serve for AmeriCorps. If you really want to live in another state, I think AmeriCorps has been a great option for me. It’s a great way to serve communities and experience an entirely different area from where you grew up.
What do you find to be the best part of your job?
I get to build and create the first fire ecology education curriculum adapted specifically for Southern Oregon! With this curriculum, K-12 students will have a comprehensive understanding of fire ecology and know about careers in fire ecology as well. It’s really cool to be able to launch something that I know will get students excited about careers in natural resources.
What are some exciting projects you have worked on in the course of your career?
Southern Oregon was hit with the Almeda Fire this year which was devastating to the community. Fortunately, my organization, with other community partners, was able to create art and school supply bags for students displaced by the fires. It hit us right at the beginning of the school year and some students lost everything. It was great to see the community come together to create kits to help students succeed.
The forest resources and conservation major introduces students to a wide range of natural resource fields, including forest ecology, ecosystem management, economics, environmental policy, modern technology applications for natural resource managers, wildlife management, and forest health. Students spend significant time in the field gaining hands-on experience with ecological and management principles. Find a CALS major that suits your interests by taking our majors quiz. You can also find information regarding our undergraduate and graduate programs on our website. Questions for Cecilia Lepa regarding her experiences in forest resources and conservation should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.