Yessenia Jimenez

yessenia eating a strawberrymountain lion cubsTo Yessenia, a naturalist is someone who is knowledge about organisms or types of organisms and is interested in exploring what makes those different organisms from others. Yessenia is originally from Watsonville, went to UC Santa Cruz then worked at the Presidio in San Francisco before returning home to Watsonville to work for the Watsonville Wetland Watch as their outreach and education nature coordinator. Yessenia first became interested in natural history through watching documentaries on Animal Planet at a young age. Back then she did not know that you could make a career out of natural history, and often times people told her she would probably become a veterinarian when she grew up due to her love of animals. When she finally got to UC Santa Cruz, she learned that natural history and ecology could lead to various career paths, other than a veterinarian. During this time she also had one of her most memorable naturalist experiences. For a time, Yessenia had worked for the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project and during one of their outings she was able to see kitten mountain lions in their den. Thereafter, she became more interested learning more about plants when she was studying abroad. Now she works in restoration and providing environmental education for high school students.

yessenia helping with restorationSome of the biggest barriers for Yessenia as a naturalist, was self-identification. She often felt she did not belong because she was not enough of an ‘expert’ in a certain taxa. Moreover, she never knew there were naturalist related careers until she became much older. She thinks we could improve diversity efforts in the naturalist community if we try to reach children at a younger age with enviornmental education. Furthermore, she believes it is important to meet the community you are trying to provide outreach to, in their community gathering places (i.e. flyering local marketplaces and community parks where families gather)