I often end up speaking to students about where I got my start in environmental science and there are definitely several turning points.
Surely the first step was the Royal Botanical Gardens in Nassau Bahamas. Mommy worked there most of my Primary school days (Yes I still call her “Mommy”, but bahamians pronounce it more like mummy). After school we (Bovair, Nikki and I would sometimes walk around the corner to her work and hang out in the gardens. Sometimes we would be joined by our cousins, Lawrence, Sam, Cheska.
That place is full of adventures for young kids. Swinging on vines, eating the fruits, running from the bees we disturbed while climbing in the huge trees that had half toppled in some forgotten hurricane. Awesomeness.
I am sure that set the roots for me wanting to become an environmental scientist. I just did not know that this was a job.
Next I believe was finding out that my teachers sometimes did not agree with other scientists or what I saw in the world. I remember finding a black spider in my backyard with an hourglass shape on the underside and telling my tenth grade science teacher that I saw a black widow spider. She confidently told me that was not possible because there are no Black Widow Spiders in the Bahamas. Now I know about sample size and effort and reporting biases that may prevent lots of organisms form ever being reported. I did review the Encyclopedia we had and confirmed that it was indeed a black widow or at least a close relative. I was satisfied at that age but I never pressed the issue with my teacher.
I guess that is where I got the research bug…