Natalie Ray is the prototype for an ideal undergraduate student who can combine academic success with civic engagement and outreach.
As an environmental educator, she believes a healthy planet means a higher quality of life for all people. Natalie wants to inspire others to conserve natural resources and become stewards of the environment. “I hope to make a difference in the way we view our planet by sharing with others what nature has to offer us,” she says. “I have changed many of my habits to live in a way that is sustainable for the planet, but I also do all that I can to encourage others to do the same.”
Her dedication as a naturalist interpreter at UM-Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center, and the Marshlands Museum and Nature Center at Lake Erie Metropark, afforded her the opportunity to be a role model for young students, encouraging them to explore the outdoors and learn from their own observations while making a connection to concepts learned in science curriculums.
An Honors Scholar in UM-Dearborn’s Environmental Studies Program who served as vice-president of the campus’s Student Environmental Association, Natalie leaped at the opportunity to study at the AuSable Institute of Environmental Studies in Tamil Nadu, India, where she was a guest student. “Everything about the trip was an incredible learning experience,” she says. More recently, she’s led interpretive walks for the Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy education committee in an effort to encourage residents to learn from, and conserve local species and ecosystems.
“My main goal is to have a positive impact on individuals’ lives and in doing so, work toward a healthier planet and healthier lives for everyone,” she says.
IN MY OWN WORDS
"I am most proud of my work at the Environmental Interpretive Center and how much I learned from my experiences while working there. From the EIC staff I gained valuable knowledge about the local flora and fauna, and also how to deliver interpretive programs to people of all ages in the most effective ways. During the years I've worked there I've discovered how much I enjoy sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm for nature and conservation of our resources."