As he prepares for graduation in December, College of Natural Resources and Environment senior Jonathan Reynolds says that his internship experiences have laid an important foundation for a career in water management.

“The internships I’ve had while at Virginia Tech have helped me broaden my view of what’s going on in the environmental side of water science,” said Reynolds, from Fredericksburg, Virginia. “I’ve learned a lot of skills I wouldn’t have gotten just by being in the classroom.”

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Reynolds, who will graduate with degrees in environmental resources management and in water: resources, policy, and management in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, has worked as a GIS intern for the Stafford County Department of Public Works, a crew leader guiding high school students in conservation projects in Virginia State Parks, and a stormwater policy intern for the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

This past summer, he was a field conservation intern at James Madison’s Montpelier, where he researched how to control invasive species in the old growth forest surrounding the historic Virginia landmark. Reynolds presented on this work at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture annual meeting in October.

“What has impressed me about Jonathan over the last couple of years is his commitment to academic achievement and his understanding of the value of education in creating future opportunities for himself,” said Associate Professor Eric Wiseman, who attended the conference with Reynolds and two other Virginia Tech students. “He’s taken full advantage of the courses, programs, and services offered here.”

In addition to internships, Reynolds completed a wintermester course in Panama, another experience that he says expanded his understanding of water’s role in broader global contexts.

“In Panama, I had the chance to explore the developing situation in Central America and see how tourism and consumerism have really impacted the environment in that region,” he said. “I worked at a rain forest preserve there, where I got to do water quality data analysis in addition to learning about the overall biodiversity of the rain forests.”

As Reynolds prepares to embark on his career, he is grateful for the ways that his time at Virginia Tech has prepared him for the future.

“It’s been a family environment in the College of Natural Resources and Environment,” he said. “All of the professors are there to support students throughout the process. They’ve helped me with all of their knowledge and experience, and I feel ready for anything the world throws at me down the road.”

Reynolds’ positive experience at Virginia Tech has already led him to make his own contribution as a soon-to-be alumnus. When asked why he chose to make a senior gift to the college, Reynolds said that he viewed it as a chance to give something back to a place that had given him so much.

“I chose to make my senior gift because it’s not just going to the general university; I could choose a department it could go to,” he said. “The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation has meant so much to me, and making a gift is the least I can do to start giving something back.”

— Written by David Fleming