Rachel Rubenfield

Sophomore in FNRM specializing in Park & Protected Area Management

How did you first become interested in the environment and natural resources?

I have always loved working with people, making them happy and facilitating great experiences in nature. Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamt of becoming an archaeologist. 

What made you interested in this major?

I chose FNRM because I love the outdoors and would like to work outdoors one day. It has always been a dream of mine to work outside, and I believe that FNRM is the best major where I can develop my passions.

What has been your favorite part of the FNRM major so far?

The most memorable or rewarding experience I have had so far in my first semester of the program was either the overnight trip to the Cloquet Forestry Center in the orientation class or my favorite lab that we did in Forest Ecology class.

On the trip to the Cloquet Forestry Center, I got to bond with fellow students, staying up late and talking over a campfire. I also learned so much on our field day through doing fun, simple field work like identifying trees, measuring plots, coring my first tree, and using forestry tools I had never heard of before.

In my favorite Forest Ecology lab, we took a field trip to Wood Rill Scientific and Natural Area where we spent half the time on a hike learning about the forest and natural area’s history and learning about how natural disturbances like hurricanes and fires affect all forests. The second half of the lab was spent collecting data for a lab about the forest’s understory ecosystem. We measured a few plots, identifying and counting saplings and measuring litter depth. In isolated one-foot areas, we took mustard powder, mixed it with water, and poured it into the soil to irritate the skin of earthworms which then came to the surface where I collected them by hand to be counted later. It was a beautiful fall day and I just remember thinking “Wow, I’m getting college credit to hike and play with worms!” I was getting credit by learning valuable, applicable skills in forestry and research. I was also getting college credit to do what I love. If you aren’t enjoying your classes, you probably aren’t in the right major, and I have loved all of my FNRM classes.

What are your goals for after graduation?

My career goal after graduation is still to be determined, but I know that with a degree in FNRM with a focus in Park and Protected Area Management, I will have many opportunities to find a career that I love.  I have yet to discover exactly what I want to do, but I have ideas. I would love to be a park ranger or program director for the National Park Service. As a park ranger I could volunteer to work on dig sites in the parks or even if I’m lucky, have this be part of my career. Another option I have considered would be working as a program director for local natural expeditions or a camp. I would also love to do research at some point in my professional life. Although I have many passions, I know I am on the right track here at the U to get me to where I want to go in life.

Rachel Rubenfeld