When Katie O’Gara was looking at degree options on PBSC’s website during her senior year at Wellington Community High School, the A.S. degree program in Environmental Science stood out as the only thing she really wanted to do.
Happy with her choice, O’Gara went on for her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Florida Gulf Coast University and currently works as an environmental specialist for the Florida state government.
Growing up in Loxahatchee, O’Gara, 30, loved watching National Geographic TV specials and was always drawn to environmental issues. At PBSC, she won a Wellington Garden Club scholarship, made the President’s and Dean’s lists, and had a paper published in Florida Field Naturalist, the fully refereed journal of the Florida Ornithological Society. The paper details the field study she conducted in Jonathan Dickinson State Park to determine if the park could provide a habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
“My PBSC degree provided more job-specific skills, but most jobs look for a bachelor’s degree. So the bachelor’s was necessary, even though I think PBSC was the perfect training.”
O’Gara next plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration with an environmental concentration. Down the road, she envisions working for a nonprofit dedicated to wildlife preservation. However, right now she knows she’s on a good path.
“People told me that environmental science was not a good field, that you can’t get a job or make a living. I did not listen to that; I went with what I believed.”
Watch a video about Katie O’Gara’s PBSC field study: