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Gabrielle G. Huntington Wins the T. Airola Memorial Award for Outstanding Student

Like most of my peers studying EENR, I chose this major for my love of the outdoors, its flora and fauna, and a passion for sustainable practices. I spent much of my childhood observing natural systems and trying to gain understanding of their innermost workings. How do tree rings form? How do ants cooperate so efficiently? How do migrating birds know when and where to fly for migration? Unlike the majority of my peers here, I had taken a break mid-education to discover for myself what it looks like to work in this field. At an ecological consulting company, Steward Green, I uncovered a hidden talent of mine: geospatial awareness. I never expected GIS to be the area that I thrive in, yet hindsight is 20/20. Since I was little, I’ve been training my eye to be keen on detail, unknowingly, by nurturing that skill with finetuned activities like drawing, painting, and sculpting. I’ve fostered my sense of direction by all the time spent losing myself outdoors and retracing my way back. These observational, directional, and detail-oriented skills have always been mine, yet EENR has helped me develop them into useful tools for sustainable ecological practices.

Transferring into Rutgers mid-pandemic and learning how to completely learn virtually was not an easy thing, not to mention adjusting to new parenthood in the midst. But I loved what I was learning. The assignments were interesting, the classes engaging, and the professors cared about student success. Rutgers has helped me find answers to those wonderings I had about our natural world. Further, the geomatics program has introduced a whole new perspective of ecology to me, one that explores the bigger picture. Mapping is what I’ve been most excited about throughout my educational journey. Steward Green helped to spark the flame by introducing real-world applications of remote sensing and spatial analyses, yet the geomatics program here at Rutgers has fueled it with the variety of tools and techniques to get the jobs done.

Moving forward, I hope to delve further into the world of GIS and remote sensing as an ecologist so that a more wholistic approach to conservative efforts can be attained. With GIS practices come an onslaught of challenges to overcome, as the technology is rapidly evolving. Problem-solving is something I’ve come to enjoy, so this entices me to learn more, and to be the best that I can be with where I’m at. As I wrap up my time here at Rutgers, I look forward to putting these tools I’ve been given to good use at Steward Green for a while longer. To the professors who invested in me, I sincerely thank you.

June 2023