Emily Fong

emily fong and someone elseEmily Fong graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2012 as an Environmental Science major. During her time there, she had the opportunity to take California Geology, Environmental Interpretation, and Natural History Field Quarter courses which helped her grow as a naturalist. She also worked as a Teacher’s Assistant with Chris Lay and Ryan Carle for the Natural History Field Course Quarter. She said this experience was especially relevant to her career because it was the time where she moved from a place of learning about natural history into the role of trying to create and hold that space for others. During this period she spent a lot of time observing the variations of Ranunculaceae and is now considering pursuing a Master’s degree and studying climate change and desert plants.

After graduating, she spent 5 years working in outdoor education. She worked mainly with adolescents from urban environments with a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Her job consisted mostly of science education, outdoor leadership, technical skills, emotional awareness, and stewardship with the goal of guiding her students towards building a stronger connection with the natural world. In 2018 she made a career shift and began working as an interpreter for the National Park Service at Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Parks, where she continues to work presently. Her role is to interpret park resources for visitors and encourage stewardship. She does this by conducting educational and evening programs and encourages visitors to visit the parks in a low impact manner.

To Emily, being a naturalist teaches individuals to look closely, ask questions, and draw connections. She believes it is a skill that can, and should, be utilized in many fields beyond the sciences. Natural history has taught her that there is so much more to be gained than just the knowledge from textbooks and lectures. Although she acknowledges the importances of the scientific methods, and its benefits, she believes there is more to a personal connection with nature than the science alone. As a 30-year old Chinese-American woman, scientists, naturalist, observer and teacher, she wants to continue to share her knowledge with others to help facilitate individual discoveries of nature and encourage them to strengthen their naturalist skills.