We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite or most influential professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series, which runs through the summer.
Today we’re showcasing Kara Whitman, project coordinator for the Ruckelshaus Center and instructor in the WSU School of the Environment. Here are her answers to a few questions:
Where are you from?
I have lived many places in the US, as my father was in the military. However, the bulk of my formative years were in Northern Idaho where my dad was a caretaker of a boy scout camp called Camp Easton on Coeur d’Alene Lake. This is where I fell in love with the natural world.
Where did you go to school? (bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., if applicable)
2013 Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA.
2007 MS in Environmental Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
2003 BLA in Landscape Architecture, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.
1996 AS (Mechanical Engineering), North Idaho College, Coeur d’Alene, ID.
How did you become interested in your field?
My undergraduate degree was in Landscape Architecture. I was very interested in the connection of people to place, how we use spaces, and how design can be influenced by natural process. This led me to attend Washington State University, where I intended to get a Masters degree and become an environmental planner. Once at WSU, I had the opportunity to work with amazing professors who inspired me to work on complex environmental problems that involve multiple stakeholder groups. This has shaped my interest into a focus on collaborative policy work for addressing regional scale environmental problems.
Why did you want to become an instructor?
As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to teach both labs and summer school, and completely fell in love with it.
What is your favorite thing about working with college students?
I am constantly surprised and inspired by my students. It is incredibly rewarding to have rich dialogue with students, be present when inspiration takes root, and see students find their path. I love being a part of this journey.
What advice would you pass along to students?
1.) Get to know your professors/instructors by introducing yourself, and by meeting with them and having meaningful dialogue
2.) Get involved with undergraduate research.
3.) See and experience the world (people, culture, environments) outside of the United States/Developed World.