Department of Applied Environmental Science
ENSTU Alumna Contributes to Book Chapter
Kianni Ledezma, an alumna of the Environmental Studies program, recently was selected to contribute to a chapter for the book titled "Latin American Transnational Youth: Experiences of Nature and Place, Culture and Care Across the Americas" by Victoria Derr and Yolanda Corona. This chapter covers the experiences of five Latinx women, including Kianni, detailing the things that have shaped their identities as well as their connection to nature.
In addition to this incredible achievement, Kianni has been busy building on her professional experiences since graduating in 2019. We recently touched base with Kianni to hear more about her post-graduation adventures. Check out her interview below!
What are you currently up to?
I currently work at a plant nursery in Sacramento assisting customers with soil identification, plant questions, and sales. I am also looking forward to working as an educator for NatureBridge's Coastal Camp this summer.
Did your experience as a science student contribute to your current career pathway?
Being part of the College of Science at CSUMB greatly influenced the path I wanted my career to go in. The wide variety of courses offered helped me see what areas I wanted to research more, especially for environmental education. Also, having participated in service learning exposed me to diverse groups of people of all ages and backgrounds from the surrounding communities. My work with the organizations I completed my service learning with, such as Return of the Natives and Regeneracion: Pajaro Valley Climate Action Group, inspired me to focus my future work on supporting communities, especially children and youth, find ways to connect to their environment in a way that makes them feel seen and supported.
What was your favorite course in the undergraduate program and why?
There were many great courses that I loved but one in particular that was my favorite was the Projects in Environmental Education Group Capstone Class taught by Dr. Victoria Derr. It was the perfect model for how environmental education works in real-world settings. Working as a group, coming up with end goals and completing them taught me how to collaborate with other students. Getting the experience of working with middle school students and teachers from Los Arboles Middle School made the class enjoyable and a great learning experience.
Are there any specific skills that you gained while at CSUMB that have helped contribute to your current success?
Attending CSUMB helped me gain many skills like adaptability, communication, and responsibility that have helped contribute to my current success. While working alongside community members in various settings such as habitat restoration events and as an educator for elementary student field trips, I attained skills that I've been able to apply to my professional and personal life. My gained skills have prepared me for my career in environmental education from my undergraduate work in a research pilot program at a middle school to my work as a Naturalist Intern at an outdoor education camp in San Mateo. During my work as a Naturalist Intern, I adapted environmental lessons in Spanish and English to outdoor settings like the redwood forest and the beach. Additionally, I connected with elementary and high schools students from different backgrounds while being able to represent the Latinx community in an outdoor setting that we haven't always been in.
What are your plans for the future?
My studies at CSUMB, as well as my experiences with the service learning organizations I volunteered for, have influenced the direction I want my career to go in. I plan on getting an M.A. in Education concentrating in racial and social justice in education. I hope to use my degrees to help youth connect to their environments while ensuring they feel represented in them. I strive to make outdoor spaces for students of color more accessible so every child can experience the beauty of nature and feel like they belong there.
We look forward to seeing where you career takes you, Kianni. Keep up the great work!