Student Spotlight: Jasmine Neverson

Doris Duke Jasmine

Jasmine Neverson is studying Environmental Technology and Management with a minor in Statistics and Toxicology. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, she moved to N.C. to attend the Salem Academy Boarding School for Girls, where she discovered a love of environmental education. Neverson has always enjoyed learning about the conservative and sustainable efforts of previous scientists and participating in service projects, like one at NC State where she helped local companies clear a large patch of invasive plants from affected trees, which allowed her to understand new environmental perspectives.

As part of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at NC State, administered by the University of Florida IFAS and supported by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Neverson traveled to Northern Wisconsin’s Flambeau River State Forest to work on a long-term forestry project with Dr. Jodi Forrester. The research project tracks the changes in a forest over time, both old-growth and recently-managed forests, to determine if and how debris and/or canopy gap addition affects the progression from second to old growth. As part of the project, she helped the research team try to replicate some disturbances within the old growth forest to speed up the process of growth on the test site. She also helped map large sections of the forest using Arc GIS and to measure tree heights with a laser and monitored the site to make sure the fences were keeping deer out and that the tree tags had not been swallowed by the tree.

How did this experience impact you?

This trip gave me everything I could expect from a career based in environmental research. I was able to be on both sides of the table as far as understanding the planning, networking and intense thought processes that go into starting a project, as well as the hands-on data collection to make all of the plans come together. It was also great being at the forefront of a project for so long and becoming so invested in it.

Before this trip, I could hardly answer questions regarding what I wanted to do with my major or if I’m interested in field research, but now I have the experience to say that as much as I enjoy being as far away from mosquitoes as possible in a nice air conditioned office, I would also appreciate any chance I have to get my hands a little dirty.

What did you learn about yourself from this experience?

I learned a lot about my limits during my experience. I realized very quickly that I underestimated my tolerance for hard work. Going into this program, I dreaded the mention of hiking long hours in the hot sun, and while the work was very tiresome, I ended each day feeling more and more proud of how much I was improving myself both physically and mentally.

How has this experience prepared you for your future career?

This opportunity changed the negative mindset I had toward working in the field, pushing me more and more away from a career that keeps me inside all day, every day.

How did this opportunity enhance your experience as a College of Natural Resources student?

I feel a lot more confident in my major now that I joined the program. I found more ways to add to my experience, so that it fits more into my interests than dropping may major all together would provide.

Why was participating in this experience important to you?

This experience was more than a means of padding my resume, it was a chance for me to be pushed so far outside of my comfort zone that I would be ready for anything life could throw at me.

What did you enjoy most about this experience?

I LOVE Wisconsin fried cheese curds!

What did you find most challenging?

To be entirely honest, the hardest part of the program was not being able to look around and see someone who looked like me 95 percent of the time that I was there. My first week in Wisconsin, I found myself wanting to give up and go home, but I realized that I was at the forefront of a change in the face of conservation, and I needed to face that challenge for every black woman who would come after me to know that she could too.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

I would most definitely recommend that other students apply for the program. You may think of a million and one reasons why you can’t do it, but once you get through your first summer and look back, you will realize that the fear you had in the beginning could have kept you from unimaginable growth.

What do you enjoy most about being a College of Natural Resources student?

I enjoy being a part of such a small college and an even smaller major, where teachers know you by name and care about your success. I also feel like because there are so few of us, the quality of the classes and research opportunities are much greater.