Juan Carlos Jerí

juan carlos at natural bridgesJuan Carlos defines a naturalist is someone has a deep curiosity and sense of wonder about nature. Juan Carlos is originally from southern Peru, and first got into exploring the natural world at a young age and his original interest was sparked by nature documentaries, and even remembers watching them preferentially compared to cartoons at age 3! He is now a master’s student at the Coastal Science and Policy Program at UC Santa Cruz and studies marine wildlife, like penguins, seals and sea turtles, and how they interact with fisheries. He thinks the best way newcomers can identify as naturalists, is to just get outside and explore. In Santa Cruz, Juan Carlos was especially inspired by how the natural landscape interacts and is integrated within Santa Cruz’s city environment, especially compared to a large metropolitan area, like Lima, Peru, where he grew up. He was also inspired by how the indigenous tribe, the Amah Mutsun, focuses on land stewardship and how the community as a whole is keen to protect open spaces.

juan carlos holding birdsOne of Juan Carlos’ most memorable field experience happened when he was working on the Galapagos Islands where he was counting nesting sea turtles and fell asleep like he was counting sheep. Later that night he was gently awaken by baby sea turtles moving around the beach!

sealsJuan Carlos thinks that we can create a more diverse and inclusive naturalist environment in Santa Cruz by being more open about sharing natural history knowledge. Additionally it is important to foster empathy as those that identify as LGBTQIA+, may not always be open, but have to consider what natural places are safe to visit due to their identity.