Jessica Carver

jessica in a forestJessica Carver believes a naturalist is anyone who has a relationship with and appreciation for nature. “Naturalism is rooted in curiosity and one’s relationship with the natural world. Whether you enjoy sitting in your backyard, hiking or spending time outdoors, you can be a naturalist.” She encourages people to strengthen their connection with the natural world and understand the individual role they play as a naturalist. 

jessica carver on a rockJessica officially joined the naturalist community during her second year at UCSC, though she embraced naturalist ideals from a young age. Growing up in the densely-populated city of Redondo Beach, California, Jessica was drawn to the coast where she could observe and learn about marine ecosystems. Her summers were often spent with family in Northern California where she was introduced to and amazed by the environment’s diversity. Those summer days would eventually become the driving force behind her decision to pursue a higher education in Santa Cruz. While at UCSC, Jessica was introduced to the tangible opportunities for learning and working as a naturalist, and by the end of her second year, Jessica’s major was Environmental Studies. Although it took two years to formally declare this as her major, Jessica never questioned her passion for nature. Today, Jessica is appreciative of her journey as a naturalist for each step has helped shape her purpose: to understand, protect and connect with nature.

carver with mushroomsJessica is interested in a variety of subjects, from natural history, mycology and herpetology to conservation, mitigation, community outreach and more. Her curiosity is genuine which has made self-identification her largest obstacle as a naturalist. “I often felt as though I did not belong because I am neither a subject-matter expert nor someone who strives to dedicate all their time to a specific environmental field.” During a recent conversation with Jessica, Roberta McPherson referred to her late husband and beloved naturalist, Fred McPherson, as “a generalist in a field of specialists.” This distinction marked a turning point in Jessica’s own naturalist career: for the first time, she saw her passion for a number of subjects not as a barrier but as a gift.