Katelynn Jenkins began her undergraduate career
at Northern Arizona University driven by a single goal – develop a way in which
she could leave Mother Nature better off than how she found it.
Taught from a young age to both appreciate and
sustain the beauty in her surroundings, Jenkins spent many summers
participating in Grand Canyon Youth river trips that included environmental rehabilitation
This dedication to improving the natural
conditions of northern Arizona compelled Jenkins to pursue a degree in forestry, which has enabled her to
explore her passion both inside and out of the classroom.
“After being involved in the Grand Canyon Youth projects,
I realized that I wanted to work in restoration and ecology, and that forestry
is where I wanted to go,” Jenkins says. “I knew I wanted to be close to the
Jenkins, who graduated this past May,
first arrived at the university with a desire to work with her fellow
foresters, who encouraged her to join the Forestry
Club. Founded in 1958, the Student Chapter of the Society of American
Foresters (SAF) is an accredited program that strives to educate and prepare
students for employment opportunities following graduation.
“If you want to be a professional forester, you
should become a member of the SAF because it represents forestry in the United
States,” Jenkins says. “The club is linked to the national association, and we
receive important forestry information from across the country as well as all
the leadership opportunities available to underclassmen.”
Jenkins didn’t waste any time capitalizing on
these opportunities – since joining, she has served as the Forestry Club’s
secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and now president. It was Jenkins’ responsibility to oversee the group’s activities, which include
community clean-ups, guest speaker presentations, logging sports competitions,
and other social events geared towards increasing its presence on campus.
Along with her work with the Forestry Club,
Jenkins also served as a member of the Student Association for Fire Ecology
(SAFE), a group that studies wildland fires and how they can affect an
At the start of her freshman year, Jenkins was selected to work with the Ecological
Research Institute (ERI) as an undergraduate researcher. She says this
opportunity – which included two summers of field work around northern Arizona
and the Southwest – helped her learn more about herself.
“Without a doubt, my experience with the ERI
developed my passion for ecological restoration and helped me grow, both
professionally and personally, into the person I am today,” Jenkins says.
Her work with ERI also opened up other doors.
“My work with the ERI landed me a job as a Fire
Effects Monitor for the Grand Canyon National Park and also provided me with
the opportunity to conduct a research project,” Jenkins says.
For this project, funded jointly by a Hooper Undergraduate Research Award and the ERI, Jenkins analyzed the effects of
the Schultz Fire on the aspens in Lockett Meadow. This 2010 wildfire burned
nearly 15,000 acres of land in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff.
Jenkins has conducted many of her studies at the
University Centennial Forest (NAUCF), a nearly 50,000-acre tract of land
allotted to the university by the state to provide opportunities for students
to get first-hand experience in the field.
Having these sorts of extracurricular activities
available within miles of her university has enabled Jenkins to flourish in her
goal of pursuing her master’s degree and becoming a seasonal worker with
wildfires. She explains the opportunity to conduct research out in the field
has provided invaluable experience that will benefit her in future
“It’s great to be so close to the area and the
environment that I want to work in as a student. I think Northern Arizona
University has been a huge help in setting me up for success with the fantastic
forestry program they have here.”