Traveling across the country to follow his passion and pursue a certificate
Growing up in New York, Sean Davis didn’t spend much time in green spaces. His mother did her best to impart her love for the natural world to Sean.
“My mother’s from Jamaica, and she was infatuated with trees,” Sean said, “but she was raising me in Brooklyn, and she would tell me about these trees that I would never, ever experience.”
Though Brooklyn was home, Sean never took to the gray, cramped bustle of the city.
“I felt claustrophobic, and I never really wanted the typical nine-to-five,” he said.
Now, years later and 3,000 miles away, Sean has found all the green space he needs. Sean works as a restoration and education specialist at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, which sits on wetlands just north of Vancouver, Washington.
Sean found his interest in wildlife and green spaces circuitously: his time at Ridgefield was preceded by stints in Montreal, Alaska, California and Oregon, most of which were spurred by seasonal jobs in the environmental education sector.
Of all his seasonal jobs, Sean remembers one — teaching environmental education to students from Los Angeles — as the catalyst that sparked his passion for environmental education.
“It inspired me to ask and answer my own science questions and pursue life as a scientist,” he said of his job with NatureBridge, where he taught students about the giant Sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park and took them rock climbing at Joshua Tree.
As someone who grew up in a metropolis, Sean valued sharing his love of nature with students who don’t normally have that chance — and don’t normally have teachers who look like them.
“When folks go to natural places, the faces they see don’t represent the dynamic of our population at large,” he said. “So, if you’re an inner-city person of color, and you get out into public land, you don’t necessarily see yourself represented by the folks who are teaching you.”
Sean wants everyone, regardless of race, income or access, to discover the joy he’s found in nature.
“It’s a thing that folks of all socioeconomic backgrounds can partake in and be a part of,” he said.
Now, as he’s wading through frigid wetlands counting Oregon spotted frog eggs, Sean counts himself lucky to have found his calling.
“I’ve just haphazardly walked into something that I discovered I’m really passionate about,” he said.