Jessi Ouzts graduated from Sewanee in 2006 with degrees in Forestry and Spanish. She joined the New Mexico Forestry Division in December of 2006 and since that time has had periodic opportunities to use her Spanish skills in a professional capacity. She worked for the Seedling Program and was able to assist Spanish-speaking landowners in selecting the ideal seedlings for their windbreak and explain planting techniques. She also facilitated a Mexican-American Professional Foresters Reunion in 2009.
Jessi's thoughts on using Spanish after Sewanee:
There is something important that I’ve learned about Hispanic cultures since I moved to New Mexico. There are land grants and many large tracts of land owned by “norteños,” and I have found Spanish to be very useful in building trust and a connection that allows me to provide better advice on how they can manage their forest land. One key component of that was translating the state’s Forest Practice Guidelines to Spanish, which I facilitated, learning many industry specific terms in the process.
The highlight in the past three years of using Spanish on a professional level was in October 2009 when I facilitated a Mexican-American Professional Foresters Reunion. Since the 1960’s, two professional societies for foresters have held biannual meetings, with the host alternating between Mexico and the US. This year we had the meeting in Albuquerque, with two days of technical sessions and field trips, and lots of opportunities for socializing. The event was a lot of fun and a step outside the typical workday for me. It was truly one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had with connecting my love for Spanish with a love for forestry.