We are continuing our conversations with NRCA alumni! Today, we are catching up with Kenechi Nkwo (NRCA Class of 2016), who is a sophomore studying Human Development and Family Studies at UConn.
“In my high school years, I would always search for fun, educational activities to participate in over the summer; NRCA was one of them,” says Kenechi, pictured during the field experience in 2016 (left), and today (right).
Read more about Kenechi’s experiences with the NRCA below:
Why were you interested in participating in the NRCA?
Kenechi: I was interested in participating in the NRCA because it sounded like a summer activity that I would enjoy. I always enjoyed science from a young age and continued to even up until now. Often in my high school years I would always search for fun educational activities to participate in over the summer; the NRCA was one of them- one I have mentally noted as one of the best experiences in nature I have ever had! And I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something to do over the summer, it is truly life changing.
What did you do for your conservation project and who was your community partner?
Kenechi: For the conservation project my community partner, Daniel P. Kloster, and I created a criteria table that would help to analyze what method of food waste conservation would best suit a particular structure. I chose my high school. Methods such as composting, Anaerobic Digestion, Aerobic Digestion and Biofuel processing were each evaluated as potential conservation methods that a given structure might utilize depending on their resources and/or their proximity to them.
What was the most memorable part of the NRCA, and why?
Kenechi: The most memorable part of the NRCA was when our group was to assemble into teams and each of us had to run through the forest in the evening to find all the ingredients for our s’mores desert using a compass and flashlights. While educational it was also extremely fun! I won’t forget how eager the teams were to get out of the forest.
Which aspect of your NRCA experience or project are you most proud of, and why?
Kenechi: The aspect of my NRCA project that I am most proud of was being able to focus on the issue of food waste, which I had been quite adamant about in previous projects in high school but was an issue I never fully tackled. Through the NRCA community project, my mentor and I were able to create a feasible solution to the food waste and I was not only able to present the solution but also to raise awareness about the correlation between food waste and world hunger.
Why did you choose to study your major at UConn?
Kenechi: I chose to study my major (HDFS-Human Development and Family Studies) because of my sheer enjoyment of working with children. While previously an intended Environmental Engineering major(not yet enrolled in the program), I switched because I struggled tremendously in it. Though its title sounded like something I was interested in pursuing, the courses that it encompassed were not and I often found myself focused on, wondering about, and dreaming of pursuing something else more than I envisioned being an Environmental Engineer. Right now as an HDFS major I enjoy my classes and walk happily in preparation for the future of Early Childhood Education that I am pursuing. I chose to study at UCONN because of the resources and support that it gave my previous intended major (Environmental Engineering) as well as its support for a wide range of other majors. Even though my current major doesn’t have a natural or environmental focus, I’ve learned that a major doesn’t say everything about a person, its only one aspect of your purpose and interests in life. It is often that when we continue to pursue the things that interest us, though outside our degrees, we create a unique footprint in our future jobs that become tailor made for us to fit into and encompass our interests. Yes, I am an HDFS major, but I am also apart of a worship team, enjoy learning languages and work with the Natural Resources and Conservation Academy. Who knows where your specializations can take you?!
What advice would you give to a student considering applying to an NRCA program?
I would say “Apply!” If you’re considering it, you’re probably wondering if you can do it, and the only way you’ll know if you can do it is if you apply and see. I will honestly tell you that attending the NRCA program maybe that once in a life time experience that you won’t forget. So, go for it! You will be introduced to a whole new world that you may never have realized was literally in your own backyard! You will also have one of the best opportunities to get your hands dirty and make friends all throughout.
If you could describe your NRCA experience in 3 words, what would they be?
Fantastic! Adventurous! Wet!
Take a look at Kenechi’s independent community project, linked below:
Thank you, Kenechi, for contributing a blog! If you have participated in an NRCA program and would like to contribute a blog about your experience, email us at email@example.com.