Sam Stephan

Sam Stephan

Sam Stephan


Environmental Science and Management
Ecological Land Management student technician
Urban Tree Stewardship intern

My college experience, like the rest of the class of 2022, has been an interesting one to say the least. When I moved out to Davis spring quarter of 2020, I never would have imagined getting the opportunity to gain hands-on experience caring for individual plants and whole ecosystems.

For as long as I can remember, I have been immersed in the natural world. From going on hikes, to smelling trees, to simply sitting in an open field, watching the wildlife enjoy and utilize the space. Coming into college I knew I wanted to study environmental science, but it wasn’t until I got the opportunity to work as a student technician for the Ecological Land Management (ELM) team that I knew I wanted to help restore lost land.

The ELM team manages naturalized areas around and within UC Davis and along Putah Creek. There is never a typical day; as a student tech, I have worked with power tools (chainsaws, weedwackers, power drills), been quad and trailer trained, learned about the use of herbicides as a restoration tool, planned and followed through with restoration projects, and, perhaps my favorite, collected seeds and planted a plethora of California natives! My staff mentor, Miles DaPrato, helped empower me by giving me the space to learn and make mistakes along the way. I now feel much more confident managing restoration projects, or I at least have made connections with people who have been doing so for a long time. Along with the other student technician, Krista Tsui, I was able to help lead various groups of interns and share what the world of restoration has to offer. I’ve loved learning alongside and getting to know different folks from all backgrounds.

I also had the opportunity to intern with the Urban Tree Stewardship (UTS) team! The teams I’ve been a part of have been very different; one is all about managing “wild” space for wildlife but also human enjoyment, while the other was more concentrated on the trees of central campus. With UTS I gained technical nursery skills and proper tree management, which I can apply to restoration as well! The blend between these teams has made me a more well rounded person and environmentalist, and I’m so grateful for the many explorational opportunities the Arboretum has.

I wish I had more time to grow with the Arboretum and Public Garden, but I know my experiences have prepared me well to keep pursuing a career in the environmental field.

Primary Category