Master's Degree Connects Alumna to Environmental Education Career in Pennsylvania Alumni Profile
Meet Jean Keene
- Job Title & Employer
- Environmental Education Specialist, PA Bureau of State Parks: Keystone State Park
- Environmental Studies-M.S.
- August 2012
- Baldwin, Pa. and Valrico, Fla.
- High School
- Bloomingdale Senior High School
- Now Living In
- Derry, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Hiking, kayaking and the Society for Creative Anachronism
"The Master of Science in environmental studies program at Point Park University gave me a solid foundation to reestablish my career in the Western Pennsylvania region."
How did you become an environmental education specialist for Keystone State Park?
While working with Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, I had an opportunity to collaborate with Keystone State Park and the park manager. When the environmental education specialist position opened, I was invited to interview. Because of my knowledge, experience and my ties to the community that surrounds the park, I was deemed the best fit for the position.
In what ways have your Master of Science in environmental studies classes helped you with the work you do?
When family circumstances brought me back to Western Pennsylvania, I already possessed a B.S. from the University of South Florida in environmental science and policy. Although I fully understood the concepts of the field, having graduated both high school and college in Florida, as well as starting my career there, much of my understanding of those concepts were rooted in Florida’s diverse ecology.
When trying to find work in Western Pa., I could answer any question about Florida’s ecology and environmental issues, but I could answer very little about Pennsylvania's environment. The Master of Science in environmental studies program at Point Park gave me a solid foundation of Pennsylvania's ecology and environmental concerns.
Additionally, environmental educators tend to be jacks of all trades, undertaking tasks not only of education, but also of finances, community outreach, marketing and other fields not typically covered in an environmental science degree program. However, Point Park University’s interdisciplinary MSES program provided me with solid building blocks for those aspects of my career by incorporating classes such as Environmental Economics, Environmental Policy and Environmental Communications.
What inspired your passion for environmental education?
It can’t be pinpointed to one particular person or event. As a child, my family often held outdoor gatherings, during which time I was often exploring the surrounding vegetation, looking for animals. During our time in Florida, while most of my friends visited the beach to tan and play volleyball, I visited to explore tidal pools and view birds.
While working on my B.S. degree in Tampa, I obtained a position with Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s Animal Shows department. At the time, I thought I had obtained my dream job of working with animals. While I quickly realized that working in a zoo setting was not, as I had originally thought, for me, I did develop a passion for the educational portion of the position. I realized that I was making a difference, inspiring environmental stewardship, by exposing people of all ages to nature and I wanted to continue in that path.
What are your favorite Point Park memories?
The small class sizes allowed me to develop a rapport with faculty and fellow students. I maintain many of these relationships still today.
What advice do you have for our students pursuing careers focused on the environment?
The Master of Science in environmental studies program at Point Park University gave me a solid foundation to reestablish my career in the Western Pennsylvania region. I also served two AmeriCorps terms, first with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and then with Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College. These year-long terms allowed me to gain hands on experience and to establish network connections in my field that have played crucial roles leading to where I am today in my career.
Read more about Jean in the story "Graduate Students Present Environmental Research at Third Annual Seminar."