Interview with Amal Farrough
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
My parents took my siblings and me on many outdoor adventures, particularly camping trips all over the world: Saskatchewan, Ontario, North Carolina, and southern Africa.
I chose to major in biology because I enjoy being outdoors, love nature and feel passionate about environmental issues.
I ended up in the field of environmental education more or less by accident. After graduating I took an internship at Au Sable Institute of Environmental Education because I didn’t know exactly what to do with my Biology degree. After one week of teaching kids about nature I realized that I had found my calling.
What’s exciting about your job or this field?
Giving children the chance to connect with the natural world, sometimes for the first time, is extremely rewarding. Seeing the amazement and wonder on their faces is an incredible experience.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
During difficult economic times the county that I work for has experienced harsh budget cuts. The environmental education department at the county parks has itself dealt with budget reductions. So far my job has survived, but I live with the reality that it may not always be there.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
I wish I had taken some education classes while in college. I think that would have given me valuable tools in connecting people with nature and interpreting the natural world for them.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey? Are there specific examples you can offer?
I am so glad for the many non-science classes that I was able to take, particularly art, Spanish, and speech. In my job I have to be a generalist, not a specialist, and have to do many things that do not fall into a pure science category. My education has given me the tools to perform a wide variety of tasks successfully.
What advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
My advisor, Mary Linton, gave me some memorable advice: “It’s not all about the pure science.” She told me that the field of Biology needs people who are poets, readers, writers, teachers and nature-lovers, as well as scientists. I would like to pass that advice on, and tell those starting out that a love of nature and passion for environmental issues are all excellent reasons to enter the field of biology.