Page 1

Natural Resources and Environmental Science


Field Experiences in Robinson Forest and Costa Rica Student Internship and Research Highlights Environmental Alert: Plastic Pollution





Words from Student Assistants 3 Summer Experience: Costa Rica 4 Summer Experience: Robinson Forest 5 UK MANNRS 6 Musicians in NRES 7 Ultimate Guide to Student Orgs 8-9 Student Internships 10-11 Faculty Highlight: Boyd Shearer 12 Environmental Alert: Plastics 13 Alumni Highlight: Stratton Hatfield & Patrick Johnson 14 Alumni Highlight: Nathan Strange 15 New Steering Committee Members 15 Who’s Who 16 Cover: NRES students in Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica Photo credit Isabel Jenkins Above: View of Robinson Forest in the fall Photo credit Matt Barton

2 NRES Newsletter

Welcome to the Fall 2018 NRES newsletter, another issue chock full of news for and about NRES students and alumni. Students today are bombarded daily with messages that can create a sense of alienation and agitation, from the increasingly global and rapid news cycle to the pressure many of our students feel to figure out their path in the world, professionally and personally. Through the stories inside this issue, we aim to remind students that each person has their own unique path to follow both in life and professionally in the field of natural resources and environmental science, each bringing their own skills, unique gifts and insights, and focal interests. We highlight NRES student-musicians who have made music a big part of their lives at UK as one example of NRES students following their passion. We are introducing a new column, Environmental Alerts, which we plan to make a regular feature of the newsletter, starting with the topic of plastics in the environment. Our goal with this column is to fuel our NRES community’s awareness of pressing environmental issues while sharing actions that we can take to help resolve those issues, knowing that having sense of agency aimed at resolving a problem is a powerful antidote to the anxiety such concerns may otherwise engender. NRES students and alumni are, and will continue to be, a part of the community of people helping to resolve the environmental challenges we face in the 21st century. If you have news you would like to see included in the newsletter, or other comments or information, please email me at marthur@uky.edu. We aim to keep you informed of our activities and engaged in the success of our current students and alumni. Dr. Mary Arthur



Throughout this newsletter we touch on stories that illustrate the wide range of interests, passions, and organizations NRES students pursue and where all of these paths can lead. While most anyone would encourage pursuing a diverse range of experiences in college, many students worry about the nonlinear nature of their current path. How can all of these tangentially related classes and internships and activities possibly connect and lead to a career?

Approaching the future with this mindset is freeing in many ways, and encourages us to make the most of any opportunity—no matter how insignificant it seems. We hear of countless professionals who cite one internship, one student organization, one event, or even one conversation that connected them with the people they work for today. Even if a class or opportunity doesn’t align perfectly with your interests, approach it with an open mind.

We’re no strangers to this uncertainty. Even though we’re upperclassmen, neither of us have a detailed life plan drawn out; like many of you, we have only a vague sense of what we will end up doing, where we will end up going, or who we will end up working with. But something we’re learning (and are definitely still working on) is how to maintain a sense of peace as everything unfolds. After hearing the stories of some of our faculty and alumni, it has become clear that many of our seemingly nonlinear paths will, when we look back at them in retrospect, come together and show linearity.

All this being said, no two paths in NRES will look exactly the same. Some people enter the major with a clear sense of their goals, while others simply have a fascination with the environment but no clue how that translates into a career. And both are perfectly okay! Through experiential opportunities, talking to faculty, and reading about alumni, many find these interests further down the road or discover an even better fit than what they initially envisioned. While it is certainly valuable to learn from those who came before you,

there is little point in getting caught up in comparing your journey through college with anyone else’s. It’s your path, not your parents’, or your professors’, or the student who is younger than you but seems to have everything figured out. Take this journey one step at a time, making use of all the opportunities you find and knowing that a community of students, faculty, and alumni are here to support you along the way. So the next time someone asks an anxiety-provoking question - “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “what kind of career are you looking for?” or the classic “so what do you want to do with an NRES major?”—don’t feel guilty for saying you don’t exactly know yet. Say it with confidence, knowing that countless others have thought those same words… and things fell into place.

Right: Quinn rock climbing Photo credit Brandon Lewis Left: Isabel on short film set Photo credit Eric Sanders

FALL 2018 3


A DAY IN THE LIFE: COSTA RICA BY ISABEL JENKINS Each day on the Costa Rica summer field experience brought a new and unpredictable adventure. The highlights of an entire country’s geography, ecology, and culture were condensed into just two short weeks. The days were long, the weather was uncertain, and suitcases rapidly began to smell questionable—but students left the country with a wealth of experiences and a broadened worldview. While it is difficult to pin down a typical day in Costa Rica, most began with an excursion. This took many forms, such as a guided hike with a local naturalist, a drive to a national park, or time to explore the surrounding area. Students also had the opportunity to visit two premier tropical research stations, La Selva and Palo Verde, to hear guest lectures from scientists and get a direct glimpse into the life of a researcher. After each day of touring and travelling, the group reconvened for an evening discussion. In a class-like setting, students reflected on the day’s events, takeaways, and relationship of field content to assigned readings. This was an excellent opportunity to connect new material with prior knowledge from NRES courses. Though much of Costa Rica seemed strikingly different than Kentucky, students sought out patterns and compared experiences. Topics covered in class often entwined both scientific and social themes, such as the influence of ecotourism on an ecological community, impacts of natural resource extraction on species diversity, and biological conservation efforts by the country. Instructors Rob Paratley and Steve Price taught from their personal areas of expertise, covering the basics of tropical plant families and amphibians. While shorter than a semester-long study abroad program, students

4 NRES Newsletter

still had a sense of immersion into this country’s culture, language, and environment. On the occasional free evening, students went out to explore the city, eat at local restaurants, and visit famous monuments and parks. Over the two weeks, students spent time in all seven of Costa Rica’s provinces, viewing a diverse array of areas within the country—even if just from the window of the bus. “I love that NRES offers two vastly different field courses. While our time here may be less hands-on than Robinson Forest, we’ve gotten a direct look into several tropical life zones,” said junior Allison Eades, who was drawn to Costa Rica by the prospect of experiencing tropical biodiversity firsthand. “We’ve seen some of the most diverse areas on the planet, and it is fascinating to compare this to what we see back home. I’ve been amazed by how rapidly ecosystems can change around us here.” The land could almost seamlessly transform from a humid lowland rainforest, to a cool montane cloud forest, to an arid zone above treeline—areas with drastically different wildlife and vegetation patterns—all within the span of a few hours.

students attending lectures, going on guided hikes, and engaging in daily discussions, perhaps most valuable were simply the experiences students gained. “I want them to be able to remember what it felt like, what it sounded like, and what it looked like to be at 11,000 feet in the Talamanca Mountains. Or in the understory of a sweltering primary lowland forest at La Selva. Or watching mammals out in the wild,” said course instructor Rob Paratley, “Yes, we covered a lot of academic content... but I want them to take away the experience.”

While much of the time in Costa Rica was devoted to academics, with

Top: Group picture under a giant Ceiba tree Bottom: View of Arenal Volcano from the bus Photo credit Isabel Jenkins


AN INSIDE LOOK INTO ROBINSON FOREST CAMP BY ISABEL JENKINS Often affectionately referred to as “summer camp,” complete with cabins, campfires, and time to disconnect in the woods, the Robinson Forest field experience exposes students to a wide range of environmental topics. Though many aspects of a traditional summer camp are maintained, the three weeks have a definitive focus on academics. Students gained a toolkit of data collection skills, increased collaborative abilities, and exposure to the various pathways an NRES degree can provide. As students discovered their interests, many left with a clearer sense of the field they wish to pursue. Days began bright and early with class, often alternating field work with lectures throughout the day. Guest lecturers covered a new set of topics each day, including stream ecology, forest management, surface mine reclamation, and more. As lecturers were often UK professors, students cultivated professional connections, gained exposure to a wide range of research, and discovered potential electives fitting within the NRES curriculum. A common sentiment was how intriguing it was to learn about the wildlife, ecology, and geography of the Southeast—a region where most of the students grew up. “Many of us see these same plants and animals in our backyard. We’re learning about our own ecosystem,” commented Sophie Beavin, a junior from Louisville. NRES Academic Coordinator Geri Philpott, who organizes many aspects of the Robinson Forest camp, was also a proponent of studying an ecosystem close to home. “Students, especially those who want to continue working in Kentucky, get a perfect environment for study. It’s great that students can learn in an area they have come from or Top: Group photo by the fire tower Bottom: Students examining aquatic macroinvertebrates Photo credit Isabel Jenkins

where they will potentially be spending their future careers.” Students also saw clear benefits with the hands-on style of field classes. It is one thing to learn about stream hydrology in the classroom, but to be in a river taking measurements is completely different. The engaging nature of field work led students to form connections with previous courses they had taken—and in many cases, concepts stick far better when they are experienced rather than presented in a classroom. Academics aside, the three weeks in Robinson Forest contained classic “summer camp” elements that helped build a sense of community. Students worked on assignments together out on their cabin porches, spent free evenings playing volleyball and badminton, roasted marshmallows around the fire into the night, and joked about ghosts and mice as they headed back to their bunks. “We spend a lot of time together, and a lot of the work we do here is collaborative,” said Sophie, referencing the dynamic among students at Robinson Forest, “Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown my team building skills, learned to communicate

within a small group, and made great connections with NRES students. I think that will carry far in my life and future career.”

FALL 2018



MIND YOUR MANRRS BY QUINN TOWERY Extracurricular activities are an important aspect of any student’s college career, providing varied opportunities for students to learn and grow that can’t be obtained through coursework alone. Some clubs create a release from the stresses of school, while others allow students to participate in community service. A select few clubs help students build professional skills and create career opportunities. Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, abbreviated MANRRS, is one of these clubs, not only building a sense of community but also providing professional development opportunities to its members.

Above: DeAnna Williams (middle) alongside current & previous Presidents

DeAnna Williams (NRES ‘20) is a testament to the success that can be achieved through MANRRS. A member of MANRRS since the fall of 2014, DeAnna has moved up through the ranks, holding the offices of Recruitment Chair, Secretary, President, and now the office of Immediate-Past President. DeAnna has attended the last three national conferences and will likely attend this year’s national conference as well. With the level of involvement DeAnna has achieved in three years, she is an expert on the clubs’ activities and its impacts on the students involved.

DeAnna describes MANRRS as a huge family in which the family members push each other to new heights. Members are focused on promoting growth as individuals and as professionals so they are ready to step into the world upon graduation. The UK MANRRS chapter has earned the title of National Chapter of the Year for six consecutive years. Of the 75 MANRRS chapters in the United States, only 6 chapters each year are awarded the National Chapter of the Year. DeAnna is very proud of this achievement and says holding this title has taken dedication and commitment from every member involved.

DeAnna describes MANRRS as a club focusing on the professional development of students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds studying agriculture and related science careers. “One of our main goals is to mold students into the best professional they can be in order to secure a job position prior to graduation,” Deanna said. MANRRS provides its members with a series of professional development workshops on topics such as LinkedIn, resume writing, cover letters, interviewing skills, and professional attire.

Academics aside, it is clear that the MANRRS family likes to have fun. One week during the fall semester MANRRS hosts a full week of events aimed at introducing new students to the organization. This event includes MANRRS Awareness Day, fashion shows, fundraisers, and a trivia night. Consistently hosting a group of 7090 students at its bi-weekly meetings, MANRRS is always looking to grow its student base. Joining and investing in a club can be a big step out of many peoples’ comfort zone, “but there is no growth in the comfort zone and there is no comfort in the growth zone.” DeAnna lives by these words and firmly believes MANRRS helps grow students’ professional skills by pushing them out of their comfort zone. MANRRS meets every other Wednesday at 7pm in Whitehall classroom building, and any student is welcome. If you would like to learn more about MANRRS or be added to the email listserv, contact DeAnna at dnwi225@g.uky.edu.

Above: DeAnna (left) holds the trophy after UK MANRRS won their 5th Chapter of the Year Award

6 NRES Newsletter

Left: UK MANRRS Chapter at the National Conference All photos credit UK MANRRS



Above: Julianna performing oboe Photo credit Julianna Dantzer

Bryan performing in a UK Symphony Orchestra concert; Photo credit Bryan Kist

If you have ever attended a concert of the UK Symphony Orchestra, the UK Symphonic Band, or the Philharmonia Orchestra, you have most likely seen one of the talented NRES student musicians. Bryan Kist (’19), Julianna Dantzer (’19), and Willie Gras (’19) all perform on campus as student musicians. Bryan plays the French horn in the UK Symphony Orchestra, Julianna plays the oboe in the UK Symphonic Band, and Willie plays the bassoon in the Philharmonia Orchestra and the UK Symphonic Band and sings for a group on campus called RocKats. Performing music in college is a large part of their lives separate from the realm of NRES. Delving into what it takes to perform music at the collegiate level, these three students give the rest of us a look into the life of a student musician. All three students agree that keeping a set practice schedule is the best way to stay performance-ready and continue to grow as a musician. Willie does a good job of keeping her priorities straight by dividing school and music into manageable time slots, but as school ramps up Willie says it can be

hard to fully focus on music because it can consume valuable school time. Julianna devotes around an hour a day practicing the oboe, but also spends significant time on the ongoing process of making her own oboe reeds. Bryan is required to practice six hours a week with the UK Symphony Orchestra, but often continues to practice outside of set schedules. He loves classical music and works hard to ensure every person who attends the UK Symphony Orchestra gains an appreciation for the classics. These students are extremely dedicated to music and it shows when they perform. These students have been playing music for most of their lives. Willie has been playing the bassoon for the past 6 years and has been singing since she can remember. Julianna has been playing the oboe since she was 10 years old, and Bryan has been playing the French horn for the past 14 years. The memories from performing music throughout their lives must be astounding. Bryan’s favorite performance to date was with the UK Symphony Orchestra

Above: Willie (right) posing with UK Symphonic Band bassoon players Photo credit Willie Graas

playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with a 100-person choir. “It was quite overwhelming,” is all Bryan could say about the experience. Each one of these students relates school to music in a different way. Julianna says that music is a stress reliever during hectic periods of school. Bryan views music and school both as a challenge, continuously pushing him to learn more and improve himself. Willie views school as a vessel for music; she has never performed music outside of school, so to her the two go hand in hand. All of our student musicians are modest about their incredible talents and deserve recognition within NRES and beyond. Please support them this year at any of their future events. Get your tickets at finearts.uky.edu/music.

FALL 2018 7






Students for a just and sustainable Kentucky ksec.cara@seac.org


DIVEST UK Fossil fuel divestment ukyagainstsweatshops@yahoo.com

Environmental activism

UNITED STUDENTS AGAINST SWEATSHOPS Labor-related issues ukyagainstsweatshops@yahoo.com



FORESTRY CLUB Connecting students who have an interest in forestry John.Lhotka@uky.edu


Fighting hunger & malnutrition on campus sstophunger@gmail.com

Advancing political ecology ukpewg@gmail.com

ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS Students interested in sustainable development (not just engineers) info@ewb-uky.org

Greenthumb Climate Rally

8 NRES Newsletter

Students Against Sweatshops

Horticulture C




CAMPUS KITCHEN Combats food insecurity through


food rescue and meal delivery campuskitchenatuk@gmail.com

LEXINGTON ENV. YOUTH OUTREACH Providing marginalized youth environmental opportunities leyoutreach@gmail.com




Opportunities to raise and sell plants and produce hortclub@gmail.com

Connecting UK and Eastern KY students through mentorship

Advancement of groups underrepresented in agriculture



GEOLOGY CLUB Connecting students who have an intestest in geology ukrocks.geology@gmail.com

OUTDOOR PURSUITS Providing outdoor recreation and education for students mjlattin@uky.edu

UK SOLAR CAR Student-led team that designs and constructs solar vehicles


Club Workday

Lexington Environmental Youth Outreach

Outdoor Pursuits Excursion

FALL 2018 9


KENTUCKY FIELD WORK AT ITS FINEST BY ISABEL JENKINS Quinn Towery and Willie Graas, NRES seniors, got a true sense of the rigors of field work with their summer internship working with forestry graduate student Jordan Winkenbach. The field crew contributed to Dr. Mary Arthur’s longterm fire ecology research project in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The goal of the summer field season was to examine the impacts of fire on oak and hickory regeneration following a fire-free period. They sampled various landscape characteristics in a total of 93 research plots in which fire treatments (no burning, infrequent burning, and frequent burning) had been applied starting in 2003. Quinn and Willie gained a suite of field skills during the summer, such as identifying tree species and understory plants and performing forest measurements, and also learned what it is like to spend the summer working in the field. “Field work really gives you a feel for the landscape,” said Quinn,

“I was able to see differences in the vegetation structure of each plot with my own eyes.” Both students got a sense of the labors of field research, such as working long hours in the sun, bushwhacking through dense forest, and pulling off countless ticks at the end of the day. They also discovered the importance of who you work with when out in the field. “Quinn and Jordan were so great to work with,” said Willie, “Thankfully, I only had to worry about the parts of the job that were supposed to be a challenge.” In addition, the students were able to openly talk with a graduate student about the process of applying to and starting graduate school, and to think about how they would like field work to play into their future paths. Quinn in particular realized that although he loves field work, he would prefer balancing it with office time - valuable information in advance of pursuing a future career.

Quinn & Willie in the field Photo credit Jordan Winkenbach

BEARS, SCAT, AND NEW MEXICO VIEWS BY ISABEL JENKINS Senior NRES major Keely Kohen’s summer exemplifies the importance of making connections. Following a single conversation with graduate student Gabie Wolf at a wildlife conference, Keely landed a summer position working on an otter diet study. Since then, her work has evolved to include multiple research projects through the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. From living in New Mexico where the otter project is unfolding to observing bear trapping projects in Kentucky, Keely has had a more diverse range of experiences than she ever imagined when first talking with Gabie. Keely’s primary project has been the river otter diet study, which gave her the opportunity to spend two weeks in New Mexico “scaling down cliffs, traveling through the desert, and kayaking up and down the Rio Grande - all in the name of research!” Aside

10 NRES Newsletter

from field experience, Keely also gained data analysis skills working in the lab and processing otter diet samples. Since then, she has also worked in Southern Illinois on deer population research, gathered data on deer damage in Western Kentucky, and observed a bear trapping project with KY Fish and Wildlife. Keely started her field work fresh out of the Robinson Forest field course, which she credits for providing her with the skills and background knowledge that she relied on while working in the field. Though Keely has had some incredible learning experiences, she considers the connections she has made to be most valuable. “Talking to graduate students and members of the wildlife community has been extremely beneficial to figuring out what I want to pursue,” Keely said, “The people I’ve worked with have played a major role in

finding my path.” Keely is now working on an undergraduate research project focused on micro-plastics found in the otter diet samples. Although she has learned that field work is frequently only indirectly related to wildlife (Keely still has yet to even see an otter!), doing research in the field has confirmed her plan to attend graduate school and pursue a Masters degree in wildlife. Keely on the bear trapping project Photo credit Keely Kohen


WORKING WITH ZEBRAS: IT’S NOT ALL BLACK & WHITE This past summer Emily Ingram and Rachael Steffen spent five weeks in Malawi working with the Kuti Wildlife Reserve. Located in East Africa, the Kuti Wildlife Reserve is home to a wide variety of large game species including giraffe, zebra, and eland, a type of antelope. At the start of their internship, Emily and Rachael were tasked with updating a zebra photographic identification inventory. This entailed taking photos of all 150 of the zebras on the preserve from four different angles; front, sides, and rear, and then cataloging each one. Once finished with the inventory, Emily and Rachael’s next task was to work closely with the park rangers patrolling the grounds, searching for signs of poachers. Big game poachers are not common at the reserve, but firewood poaching is very common. People living in the surrounding area rely on wood for their cooking needs but have depleted all

BY QUINN TOWERY their local firewood resources; this has led to a practice of poaching wood from the reserve. The loss of trees in the reserve due to poaching is leading to a decline in animal habitat which, coupled with other environmental pressures, has led reserve managers to focus part of their efforts on becoming a leader in sustainable practices for the region. To this end the park has created a garden and composting facility in which Emily and Rachael also worked. Working in the greenhouse and gardens was not what Emily and Rachael envisioned they would be doing at a wildlife reserve, but it turned out to be one of the most important aspects of the experience because they learned first-hand the immediate importance of embracing sustainability practices in this region of the world. Top: Emily and Rachael in the nature center Bottom: Two zebra on the reserve Photo credit Emily Ingram

THE EYE BEHIND THE CAMERA BY QUINN TOWERY Isabel Jenkins, NRES ‘20, spent her summer as a Communications Intern at the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE). The brunt of Isabel’s work involved managing email communications, tabling at events, and writing press releases. The exciting portion of the internship was creating promotional materials such as videos, flyers, and newsletters. Isabel has a passion for media which she uses to engage the public on environmental and sustainability topics. “There are certainly downsides to our technologydriven world,” Isabel said, “But I like to view media as a powerful tool for connecting with this generation.” As a two-year employee of UK’s campus media center, the Media Depot, Isabel has gained incredible video and design skills and is our local expert. Isabel setting up to film an interview Photo credit KAEE

This summer Isabel was able to apply these skills and work on event covarage videos for KAEE as well as an ongoing legacy video project, informing the public about the importance of environmental education and how to support the mission of KAEE. The video includes highlights from KAEE’s annual conference, professional learning events, and interviews from long-time KAEE members. In the process of making the video, Isabel was able to travel across the state and form several new connections. Isabel said the biggest challenge she had to overcome this summer was working largely alone. Becoming confident in her own creative choices without direction or reassurance from a supervisor was tough, but in the end Isabel gained valuable experience and became more sure in her decisions.

FALL 2018 11


NRE 355: A THANK YOU TO BOYD SHEARER BY QUINN TOWERY Boyd Shearer, who taught NRE 355 “Intro to Geospatial Analysis” for 4 years and also a GIS segment in the Robinson Forest field experience, recently moved to the Department of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences as a full-time faculty lecturer. We are sad to see him leave NRES but are happy to see him make a home in the Department of Geography, where he will be teaching courses still of interest to some NRES students. A well-loved instructor during his years with NRES, we would like to reflect on the unique approach to mapping Boyd brought to NRE 355 and encourage students searching for more geospatial courses to look to Boyd’s courses in Geography in the future. Taking a hands-on approach to NRE 355, Boyd created a class that often incorporated outdoor recreation activities into the content learned. Over the four years Boyd taught NRE 355, his classes mapped urban and natural areas including Pine Mountain State Park, Pilot Knob State Nature Preserve, the tree canopy of Lexington, and the Town Branch Trail still under construction. Boyd taught students that each map represents real places and real people, so the representation

12 NRES Newsletter

should be well constructed and thought out to effectively meet the needs of the area and guide map users into sustainable practices. A key point Boyd made to all his classes was to understand all the effects a map can have on an area. In addition to his new faculty position in Geography, Boyd runs a mapping business, OutraGIS, which he started in 1999. His first significant success was selling a digital map package called “VideoGIS” to TV news networks. Boyd had one of his maps on TV news networks almost every night. Now you can find his maps of the Red River Gorge, Cumberland Gap, and the Sheltowee Trace Trail at almost any outdoor retailer. Boyd uses the skills he has gained in his years of independent mapping to help students understand the importance of accurately and effectively representing an area. Next Spring Boyd will be teaching GEO 409, Advanced GIS, in the Department of Geography. Offered T/

TH 2-3:15, this course is a requirement for GIS and Mapping Minors. Boyd also helps teach the New Maps Plus graduate program which is 100% online, educating graduate students on the newest mapping techniques available. Feel free to contact Boyd if you are interested in any of these opportunities. This fall NRE 355 is being taught by a new instructor to NRES, Dr. Ted Stumbur. We are very excited to have Dr. Stumbur, with his years of education and experience in GIS, teaching this course and look forward to seeing the new approaches he brings to the table. And as always, Dr. Brian Lee, the NRES DUS and professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, will be teaching NRE 355 in the spring semester. If you have not taken NRE 355 and are trying to determine which instructor best fits your learning style, you can contact Ted Stumbur at Ted. Stumbur@uky.edu and Brian Lee at blee@uky.edu. Left: Boyd & Iona; credit Boyd Shearer Right: Ted Stumbur, credit Ted Stumbur Middle: A student map of Pilot Knob


ENVIRONMENTAL ALERT: PLASTICS BY ISABEL JENKINS As NRES students, many of our required courses have underlying themes in sustainability and environmental issues. When thinking about these issues, it is often easy to view them simply from within our personal ‘bubbles,’ so we want to use this column to reframe these ideas on a larger scale—from our NRES community, to campus, to the world. And what better topic to begin with than plastics? In this current age, most people—even those who would not consider themselves engaged with environmental issues—have at least some prior exposure to plastic pollution. It is often the first thing that comes to mind when we consider ‘sustainability,’ and this is largely because plastic has become so ubiquitous in our society: product packaging, water bottles, takeout containers, even clothing. Sadly, accumulations of this slowdegrading material have now also become ubiquitous in the environment. A recent infographic from National Geographic states that less than a fifth of plastic products are recycled globally, and 40 percent of all plastic produced is used just once and then discarded.¹ The consequences of our plastic pollution are becoming more well known, with posts scattering social media about plastic vortexes in the ocean, unsuspecting wildlife choked by plastic rings, and dangers of toxic additives leaching into our food and groundwater. Fortunately, efforts to reduce single-use plastics on a larger scale have also been making the news. It is becoming a more promising time for sustainability initiatives in the United States, with many universities implementing recent sustainability strategic plans, UK included, and increasing effort to reduce plastic use

coming from both large corporations and small businesses. Starbucks has released a new strawless lid and alternative-material straw options, Kroger plans to phase out all plastic shopping bags by 2025, and things are stirring right here on campus. Most notable is a joint campaign between UK Recycling, Dining, and Sustainability called “Help UK POP” (Pass on Plastics). The campaign has students pledge to reduce plastic pollution on campus, providing them with a canvas bag, a metal water bottle, and an aluminum straw all stamped with the phrase “I’m not plastic.” “Equipping people with the necessary knowledge and materials is critical to promoting behavior change in plastic use,” said NRES Junior and UK Recycling intern Sophie Beavin, who is a huge proponent of the campaign’s educational strategy. “While simply banning plastic products can be effective, I think providing people with reusable items has a greater long-term impact because they choose to reduce waste rather than feel forced to.”

The next time you come across a viral photo of a sea turtle chewing a plastic bag, try not to mindlessly scroll past. It is important to reflect on the global implications of our daily actions here in Kentucky, and to recognize aspects of our lifestyles that are unsustainable, but it is also important not to be discouraged or fall into apathy. Consider tangible ways to become involved with plastic reduction on campus and in your personal life, and be empowered by the thought that even small steps, like remembering reusable bags on your next grocery run, will make a difference. To learn more about UK POPs and take the pledge, visit www.uky.edu/ sustainability/ukpops. ¹National Geographic, Fast Facts about Plastic Pollution. news.nationalgeographic. com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographicsocean-pollution

UK POP campaign booth Photo credit UK Sustainability

FALL 2018 13


STRATTON HATFIELD AND PATRICK JOHNSON BY ISABEL JENKINS Two of our alumni, Stratton Hatfield and Patrick Johnson, have found vastly different positions but are linked by a common theme: a diverse range of experiences, not always seeming to be linear in nature, culminating into a more clearly defined path. Stratton Hatfield, NRES ‘13, is a prime example of the value diverse experiences can have in forging a career path. Born in Zimbabwe to American parents and growing up in Kenya, Stratton came to NRES with a wealth of unique experiences. However, he credits the Forestry Department and the NRES program, particularly his Master’s advisor Dr. John Cox, for providing him with the encouragement he needed as his path unfolded. In 2010, Stratton began volunteering and working in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya on various conservation projects, specifically the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. This private conservancy, home to herds of large mammals and a diverse range of bird species, provided Stratton with rich and varied experiences in large-scale wildlife management, opportunities to engage with the local Maasai community, and fuel for his budding fascination with martial eagles. Since graduation, Stratton has spent much of his time in Kenya studying martial eagles and developing a conservation and research NGO, the Mara Raptor Project, which aims to conserve raptors through research, outreach, and management. Stratton is a familiar name to many NRES students, having stayed connected with the community by speaking to last year’s NRE 201 class and giving Skype updates on his MS research in Dr. Cox’s Conservation Biology class (FOR 435). He is currently in the midst of a number of changes, just finishing up a Master’s at UK and defending his thesis on the diet and space use of the martial eagle—the largest study in eastern Africa focused on the ecology of this vulnerable species. He plans to continue his work on martial eagles at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands in pursuit of a PhD.

14 NRES Newsletter

Patrick Johnson (NRES ‘12), who took a completely different route and pursued the field of environmental law, now works as an attorney for the Region 4 Office of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta. Upon graduating from UK, Patrick went to the University of Idaho to earn a Master of Science in Water Resources and a Juris Doctor with emphases in Natural Resources and Environmental Law and Native American Law. While in law school, Patrick held several positions: providing legal support to two tribes on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho; working for Wilderness Watch, an environmental advocacy group seeking to protect federally designated wilderness areas; and a legal internship for the Region 4 US EPA, where he was eventually hired full-time. Patrick has found the communication skills and technical knowledge he gained in NRES most helpful in his career. As a practicing environmental lawyer, his job requires him to work with environmental scientists to seek solutions and apply technical environmental regulations - work made much easier by his undergraduate foundation in the sciences. “In part due to the UK NRES program, I am able to speak the same language as those scientists,” Patrick said, “This allows for effective and efficient working relationships.” Though now in completely different fields, Stratton and Patrick agree that the relationships they formed during their time in NRES were highly beneficial—whether that was in the form of a faculty mentor or friendships

Left: Adult martial eagle in flight Right: Stratton with a martial eagle Photo credit Stratton Hatfield

with other students. Stratton and Patrick, along with Eric Hope (NRES ‘13), became close friends over their college years through their work on campus sustainability issues; despite highly varied paths since graduation, they remain close. “I can’t speak highly enough of Patrick and Eric,” said Stratton, “I value their advice tremendously. Despite our vastly different career paths, they remain two of my best friends and supporters.” Stratton and Patrick are always open to having conversations about their respective fields with students. Contact Patrick at john0504@alumni.uidaho. edu and Stratton at hatfield.stratton@ gmail.com, and view updates on the Mara Raptor project on Facebook.

Above: Patrick Johnson Photo credit Patrick Johnson


24 INDIANA STATE PARKS WITH NATHAN STRANGE BY QUINN TOWERY Nathan Strange (NRCM ’12) has melded his two passions of writing and the environment to become an author of two successful books that focus on public parks and their histories. Written for the centennial of the Indiana State Parks Service, Nathan’s most recent book, “The Complete Guide to Indiana State Parks,” gives detailed historical descriptions of each Indiana state park. Nathan has found that unlike the ecological and recreational aspects of a park, the historical aspect of a park can often be lost or hard to uncover. Therefore, Nathan’s goal for this book was to educate the public about the historical significance of each Indiana State Park. Unlike guide books, which focus on the physical aspects of a park, Nathan’s book focuses on topics

such as how each park was founded, who donated the land, the year the park was founded, and the people who developed the cabins, trails, and recreational facilities. By focusing on these aspects of park history, Nathan’s book brings each park to life in the context of the human efforts that went into creating each one. A non-traditional student, Nathan returned to college at the age of 29, halfway through writing his first book, “A Guide to the Knobstone Trail”. By earning a degree in NRCM, Nathan acted on his dual passions for the environment and writing. Nathan now works for the Indiana Governor’s estate as the head of groundskeeping, has published two successful books, and is confident another will be on the way.

Above: Nathan Strange with his book Photo credit Nathan Strange


Chris Shepard is the Assistant Professor of Critical Zone Pedology in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. Chris completed his PhD and MS at the University of Arizona investigating the influence of climate change on soil formation in the deserts of Southeastern Arizona. He’s interested in how soils form and how the process is impacted by environmental changes. Chris started at UK in July 2018 and will be teaching Soil Classification and Genesis and Morphology, as well as advising the UK Soil Judging Team. He’s very excited about teaching soils here at UK!

Sandra Broadus is an alumna of the NRES program circa 2012. After holding multiple positions around the country, she discovered a passion for how transportation choices fit into sustainability, land use, and social justice issues. She is now the Alternative Transportation Manager at the University of Kentucky, coordinating bicycle, transit, and pedestrian programs and infrastructure on campus. She is also working on a Masters in Public Administration at the Martin School and serves as the Conservation Officer for the Bluegrass Wildwater Association.

Christopher D. Barton, Ph.D. is a Professor of Forest Hydrology and Watershed Management in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. He currently works in ecosystem restoration, reforestation, and remediation primarily in streams, wetlands and mined lands. In addition, he examines methods for preventing water quality degradation from land-use activities. Dr. Barton is an assosiate editor for two reclamation journals and is also the founder of Green Forests Work, a program to improve the environment and economy of Appalachian mined landscapes.

Lynn Roche Phillips is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on land use, development, and the politics of urban and rural land use change. Prior to coming to UK in 2001, Lynn worked for 17 years as a professional environmental planner, serving as a local planning director and civilian liaison land use planner for the US Marine Corps. She is the recipient of the 2018 Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award and the 2017 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award.

FALL 2018




Pictured from left to right: Dr. Kevin Yeager, Department of Earth and Environmental Science; Dr. Chris Barton, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Dr. Mary Arthur, Chair, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Dr. Chris Shepard, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Dr. Brian Lee, DUS, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Chris Sass, Department of Landscape Architecture; Robert Paratley, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Sandra Broadus, NRES alumna, Alternative Transportation Services; Dr. Chris Matocha, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Dr. Dave McNear, Department of Plant and Soil Science. Not pictured: Dr. Steve Price, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Dr. Jack Schieffer, Department of Agricultural Economics; Dr. Lynn Roche Phillips, Department of Geography. The Steering Committee oversees all aspects of the NRES program including advising students, refining and revising the curriculum, and outreach and promotion.

SPECIAL THANKS TO MARY ARTHUR We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to Dr. Arthur as she finishes her last year as Chair of the NRES Steering Committee. She has served an indispensible role on the committee, shown great devotion to this program and its students, and poured countless hours into the formation of this newsletter. From all of the NRES student assistants, thank you for your continued support, wisdom, and encouragement!

HAVE IDEAS FOR FUTURE STORIES? If you have news, comments, or information you would like to see included in the newsletter, please email marthur@uky.edu. We aim to keep you informed of our activities and engaged in the success of our current students and alumni.

16 NRES Newsletter

HELP NRES CONTINUE HELPING STUDENTS ON THEIR PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS! NRES is seeking donations to help fund student scholarships. Donations can be accepted to the NRES Enrichment Fund or to the Chase Parker Powell scholarship fund. If you wish to donate, please contact Geri Philpott at geri. philpott@uky.edu or 859-257-2337.


Profile for KentuckyNRES

Fall 2018 NRES Newsletter  

Fall 2018 newsletter of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science interdisciplinary bachelor of science degree at the University of Ke...

Fall 2018 NRES Newsletter  

Fall 2018 newsletter of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science interdisciplinary bachelor of science degree at the University of Ke...