Meet NRCA Alumna and University of New England Undergraduate Tessa Rock

Today, we got to talk with Tessa Rock, who was a member of the NRCA Class of 2016. Tessa is now a freshman studying Marine Sciences, with a Marine Biology concentration, at the University of New England.


(Left) Tessa presents her independent community project poster at the Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources in March of 2017. (Right) Tessa during a beach clean up with the University of New England this year, where students collected almost 500 pounds of litter. 


Read more about Tessa’s experiences with the NRCA below: 

Why were you interested in participating in the NRCA?

Tessa: I wanted to participate in the NRCA because I love nature and I wanted to learn more about my environment. I really loved the idea of doing a community project because I wanted to have my own research project during high school. Everything about NRCA interested me because it gave me knowledge I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.


What did you do for your conservation project and who was your community partner?

Tessa: I did my project on the effectiveness of American beach grass on dune restoration. My community partner was the East Lyme trust organization in East Lyme Connecticut and the person I was mainly in contact with was Jim Gallagher.


What was the most memorable part of the NRCA, and why?

Tessa: The most memorable part about NRCA were the connections I made during my time at UCONN and in my community. I was able to talk to professors who are professionals in their field. That gave me a sense of all of the paths I could take in my life. In my community, I presented my project to people I would never have talked to if it wasn’t for my project. By reaching out more into my community, I made connections that can benefit me in my life as a college student and graduate student.


Which aspect of your NRCA experience or project are you most proud of, and why?

Tessa: The aspect I am most proud of is how far my project got me. After the conference, I went to the Connecticut state science fair and won three awards for my research. I then went on to present it to the organization that funded it and to my school. Right now I am in the process of getting my research paper published in a science journal. This project allowed me to get right into the real world of science and I am so appreciative of it.


Why did you choose to study your major?

Tessa: I chose to be a marine biology major because I absolutely love the ocean and all of its creatures. Ocean animals have fascinated me since I was a toddler, so getting to study them is my dream. But I also get to learn more about the ocean in general, especially climate change, which shows me how everything is connected.


What advice would you give to a student considering applying to an NRCA program?

Tessa: If you are on the fence about applying for NRCA, first ask yourself do you want to be in nature for a week. Second, ask yourself if you have a drive to do research in your community to benefit it. And even if you’re not sure about either, NRCA will give you a leg up when it comes to college applications and research projects. If you really want college research experience, apply to NRCA.


If you could describe your NRCA experience in 3 words, what would they be?

Tessa: Getting into nature.


Take a look at Tessa’s independent community project, linked below:


Thank you, Tessa, 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