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 Schola
r 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.