Wyatt Jackson was born in Jamestown, NY and joined SUNY Brockport in 2014. He spent very little time indoors, but when we was he focused on playing guitar with his brother. When choosing a major, he was as unsure as everyone, choosing a career path can be daunting, but Wyatt knew that he didn’t want to work inside for 40 hours a week.
“It was kind of a last minute choice,” Wyatt said. “I knew I loved the outdoors and hiking, but after taking a tour on campus and seeing what all the students were doing in the department, I knew Environmental Science was for me.”
Wyatt kept his workload steady his first year, focusing on maintaining his position in the Honor College and getting to know his professors. Dr. Kathryn Amatangelo, his advisor, helped him feel welcome to the college early on. Offering him guidance with class selection and research opportunities. His environmental science instructor, Andie Graham, was the first to offer him a chance at a research opportunity in the summer of 2016, at the Bergen Swamp.
“The Bergen Swamp research actually ended up being my favorite opportunity,” Wyatt said. “We were researching an area that most people were never allowed into, and I got to see plants that cannot be found anywhere in this area.”
During his research at the Bergen Swamp, his group was focusing on a new invasive plant species that had come into the area known as the slender false-brome. This species has the ability to out-compete the existing vegetation in the area, threatening to overrun the swamp in time. Wyatt’s group was able to figure out what type of conditions the plant had been growing in and correctly guessed that it was because of the many trails in the area. Wyatt’s research on the slender false-broam was not overlooked, he went on to present his research at Scholar’s Day and the New York State Annual Wetlands Forum.
“The Wetlands Forum was my first exposure to an academic conference where everyone in attendance was either a professional in a related field or a student, Wyatt said. “It was exciting to catch a glimpse into the work of professionals outside the academic setting.”
After receiving a taste of research, Wyatt was hooked. He now spends his free time exploring and hiking surrounding areas. He often shares interesting plants he finds on Facebook with other environmental enthusiasts. Dr. Amatangelo noticed the effort that Wyatt was putting into her class, and with her research focus being on invasive plant species, she helped Wyatt receive an internship at the Gonondagan State Historic Site in Victor, New York.
Another invasive plant species was the prospect. This time, it was the pale swallowwort. Wyatt’s job was to go out into the field daily and mark where he could find any patches of the plant, then study any trends that the plant inhibited. The goal was to maximize the efficiency of the herbicide employees for when they came to eradicate the plant. Wyatt improved his plant identification skills during this opportunity and he was hoping to come back to the site again next year, but another opportunity arose shortly after.
“I loved being out in the field every day and I was looking forward to possibly coming back to the site the following year,” Wyatt said ” So it was a little bitter-sweet to find out that I had another opportunity with Dr. Amatangelo that I decided to pursue instead”
In the fall of 2017, Wyatt found himself conducting research focused on something other than invasive plant species for the first time, at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Basom, New York. There is a road that cuts directly through the reserve. Unfortunately, many cars have hit and killed turtles crossing the road. The Refuge wanted to build a culvert for the turtles to use as safe travel, to help them shy away from the roads, avoiding fatalities. Wyatt’s job was to find the best possible place for the culvert to be built so the turtles would be best influenced to use it for travel.
Wyatt, who will be graduating in the spring of 2018, now has his sights on graduate school, but he is still uncertain of where he will end up. Wherever he lands, Wyatt will bring the excellent work ethic and experience he gained at Brockport.
“Being at Brockport genuinely surprised me with just how helpful the professors can be,” Wyatt said. “They are willing to go out of their way to help create opportunities for the people they see putting in the effort.”