Congratulations Issac Carbajal! He is the first recipient of The Dale Earnhardt Foundation’s CONNECT scholarship. This scholarship covers the cost of a student’s summer in the CONNECT program. Thank you to the Dale Earnhardt Foundation for supporting this wonderful opportunity for students to have an alternate path to pursuing these fields in natural resources!
“No one experience is directly responsible for my yearning to protect our environment. As I’ve grown, many experiences have contributed to my appreciation for our world and have lead me to want to pursue a career in Conservation Biology. Throughout my childhood my mom took my little brother and I on many outdoor adventures. This fostered my great appreciation for the environment and wildlife around us. I am fascinated with ecology and man’s impact on it.
I have fond memories of trips to the mountains, with dense fogs rolling in as we crossed the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain. We have explored Blue Ridge Mountain’s Bat Cave Preserve, consisting of many winding tunnels and a main chamber 300 feet long and 85 feet tall. We also frequented the coast where I have camped, surf fished and have driven my uncle’s boat to explore islands off the coast. Locally, our family hikes regularly at Umstead and Eno River State Parks. I have always enjoyed racing leaves down streams and skipping rocks with my little brother as we hike.
As a high school student I’ve made a conscious effort to experience science to it’s fullest. As a freshman I took an outdoor science and a marine ecology class. I learned how to identify different species of birds and whales by their calls and their appearance. I also learned how to identify trees by their leaves and their bark. As a junior I took an environmental science class and was introduced to NC State’s Exploring the Earth Summer Camp. I applied and was accepted! I soon gained practical experience in a work environment. I took discharge, water quality measurements such as dissolved oxygen, pH, and e. coli levels, and atmospheric measurements such as temperature, dew point and cloud coverage at Umstead State Park’s Reedy Creek.
Not too long after camp, I was personally introduced the National Audubon Society while visiting the coast. While walking on the beach we saw restricted nesting areas for migratory birds. An Audubon volunteer taught us about each bird and allowed us to use their spotting scope to view hatchlings. The experience was exhilarating and encompassed what I want to do as a career, study coastal ecology and make progress towards conserving wildlife.
Looking towards the future, my goal is to combine my passion for the environment with my career path so that I can love the work I do. The idea of making the earth my office excites me. On my college search I’ve found that no other university offers a program that compares to NC State’s College of Natural Resources. This caused NC State to become my top pick in my college hunt. It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. My goal is to be accepted into the CONNECT program, and perform well, while nurturing strong relationships with my peers and professors to ensure that I will be prepared to transfer to North Carolina State University.”