Zachary Fritz ('19)
How did you end up deciding on an ES major? What were your plans coming into college and how have they evolved since?
I grew up always playing outside, or finding new places to explore around my house. This helped me develop a closer connection with nature and a sense of wonder about the places I was in. I knew that when I came to college I wanted to continue to learn about these places and do something in the science field. When I finally came to St. John’s, I was thinking about majoring in Biology, but decided on Environmental Studies after taking my first class. I am so happy with my decision and have learned so much from every single one of the Environmental Studies classes.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in on campus?
I am a member of the Peer Resource Program where we conduct on-campus events, lead challenge courses, and facilitate wilderness trips in Minnesota and around the country. I also work at the Outdoor Leadership Center (OLC) where we rent out free outdoor gear to students and coordinate on campus events to get students outside. Lastly, I live in one of the St. John’s University Eco-Houses on campus to promote sustainable living for college students. Our house is located with the SJU solar field behind us and a winter greenhouse in our front yard. We grow and maintain a greenhouse to supply the SJU Refectory with fresh food grown on campus.
Have you participated in any study abroad, ABE, or off campus learning experiences? How were they beneficial to your major?
I studied abroad in the fall of 2017 through Round River Conservation Studies in Patagonia, Chile doing field research. This was beneficial towards my major because I was about to receive a whole semester worth of credits towards my ES major by doing real world conservation field work at a local level. From the field work and data processes, I was able to develop extremely valuable skills that I can apply to future internships, or jobs.
Please describe your internship experience (past, present, or potential future).
For my internship, I guided canoe trips in Ontario and Manitoba, Canada for the summer of 2017 through Les-Voyageurs Inc. Les-Voyageurs aims to “expand the horizons of young people as it challenges their physical, psychological, social and learning skills through an intense outdoor experience.” I worked with crews to help them learn necessary skills, prepare food, gear, and logistics for our trips, each lasting one month. The trip challenges high school aged students through healthy risk taking, while learning leadership skills and importance of working as a group. My internship also helped me gain a deeper respect for the places untouched by humans and why they are so important to protect, while getting to explore the field of outdoor education.
What do you plan on doing with an ES major?
Currently, I have been bouncing back and forth between either conservation work, outdoor education, or working on becoming a teacher. I haven’t quite decided what path to head down yet, but I am keeping my doors open to possible opportunities within these fields. I hope to overall help people develop a better relationship with nature and getting people outside.
Do you have any advice for current or future Environmental Studies majors?
The biggest advice I have would be to get involved with as much as you can. You will meet so many incredible people. I would also say to not be afraid of asking for help/advice from professors, they are an extremely valuable resource to have. The environmental Studies major is also multidisciplinary, take advantage of that I find an area that you are passionate about. You may find yourself enjoying a field that you may not have thought you would enjoy.