Updated: September 17, 2013 8:16AM
Teresa Clark is thrilled with the possibilities that lie ahead for her.
Clark recently earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in ecology at Purdue University North Central and she is preparing to enter the Purdue University Ecological Sciences and Engineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in the School of Agriculture/Department of Forestry.
Her master’s project and research will center on invasive species in forestry at the regional scale.
In addition, she was selected for a USDA National Needs Fellowship in support of Natural Resources Resilience. The fellowship’s goal is to educate a diverse pool of graduate students in forest and agricultural sustainability and resilience. She will join other graduate students in resolving environmental and natural resource issues with a holistic approach that considers social, policy and economic roles.
“To be accepted into this master’s program and to be offered the fellowship has been a special gift,” said Clark, a married mother of two.
“A degree from PNC can take you any place that you can imagine, all you have to do is put in the work.
Clark has taken a unique path to get where she is today.
In 1990 she earned a degree in aviation technology and was a pilot for some time. “Marriage and children changed my desire to travel and fly for a living,” she explained. She willingly relocated several times to support her husband’s career. She homeschooled their two children.
In time, she decided she was ready to return to school. After taking some science classes at Ivy Tech Community College, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at PNC.
“I think my first interest in the effect of invasive species occurred while hiking in the Smoky Mountains about 10 years ago,” she recalled. “I spent time there while living in North Carolina in the 1990s. I noticed a decimation of the forest when I returned with my family. Since then I’ve studied effects of exotic plants and animals that threaten our native ecosystems.”
She was thrilled with the opportunity to study and research invasive species through computer modeling and remote sensing as a graduate student.
Clark admits she is fortunate to have her family’s support. “I routinely had textbooks at soccer games and had to sequester myself during finals week,” she noted. “My husband has become an expert chef and my children superior in the home maintenance department. Being back in school has enabled me to be a better help with high school algebra.”
Her family fully supports her decision to pursue her master’s degree, relocating to West Lafayette so that she may pursue her dream.
Clark was inducted into Beta Beta Beta, the Biology Honor Society and her grades earned her mention on the semester honors lists.
She also found time to volunteer with the Knox Band Boosters, Kappa Kappa Kappa, Knox United Methodist church and was an active soccer parent.
Last summer she volunteered with the Indiana Dune National Lakeshore Wetland Unit in the Cowles Bog restoration. She’s also volunteered with Save the Dunes, removing exotic species, planting native plants and restoration of degraded landscapes.
Clark credits her education and volunteer activities for qualifying her for a position with CardnoJFNew in Walkerton, a local leader in ecological consulting and restoration.
“I feel that PNC is a great school for students that want a smaller school with detailed instructor attention,” said Clark. “I had a consistent rapport with my PNC professors; they were always available either in class, office hours or by email. Some went out of their way to make it possible for me to gain not only my degree but specific ecological knowledge that enabled me to get this fellowship.
“Dr. Robin Scribailo and Dr. Mitchell Alix created an independent study that gave me hands-on experience with the identification of native and exotic aquatic plants. It provided me with a vehicle to study the statistics of invasive weeds in many North Indiana lakes. This was one of the experiences that made my PNC education very individualistic. I don’t think I could have obtained this specific attention at a larger campus.