Environmental Studies at UVM

James Ridgely '13

ENVS major, concentrating in Ecology and Concentration, with a minor in History

I love to travel and I have been fortunate enough to combine that interest with environmental studies. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland I came to UVM because of my interest in environmental issues and because it was far away from home, allowing me to live in a new place with a different landscape. I did not start at UVM, though. My sophomore year at different college where I was a history major, I enrolled in a four-month NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) program in the Himalayas in northern India. There I developed a greater appreciation for the outdoors and the environment. We learned the importance of leave-no-trace, about climate change, and how many poor people in developing countries such as India take the brunt of the burden when it comes to environmental issues.  As a result, I transferred to UVM to pursue my new passion for environmental studies.

I am a senior environmental studies major with a concentration in ecology and conservation. I am also a history minor. After one year here I decided to take my knowledge and interest in conservation to the field. The summer of 2012 I volunteered at the Fundacion Santuario de Osa, a wildlife rescue sanctuary in the Costa Rican rainforest where I rehabilitated and helped the animals there in any way possible—fed, watered, cleaned cages, and aided in wildlife re-releases. My favorite part was giving tours and educating people about the animals there, their rehabilitation and the importance of re-release. Most recently, I spent the spring semester of 2013 studying ecology and conservation abroad in Ecuador. The program was amazing and allowed me to travel to the Amazon Rainforest and the Galapagos Islands. These experiences have all shaped me into the committed environmental student that I am. My favorite campus ENVS course was 295 Eastern Wilderness, taught by the most influential professor I have ever had, Jim Northup.

I’ll graduate in December 2013 and have plans to travel—to Indonesia immediately for about 5 months, then on to other countries in Southeast Asia. I would like to volunteer at another wildlife sanctuary and eventually find work abroad in conservation. I see myself traveling for the rest of my life. In reflecting on my experience in ENVS I would say that I have definitely changed as a person. I now pay much more attention to my own actions and the actions of others, how we all affect the environment. I recommend all ENVS students take advantage of opportunities to travel and further your studies and gain valuable life experience. Do it while you can.

Here I am with Sweetie, a re-released Spider Monkey from Fundacion Santuario de Osa.