Inside SFS

Jonny Beals-Nesmith ’91

Ecologist at the National Parks Service

SFS alumnus Jonny Beals-Nesmith ’91 is an ecologist with the National Parks where he monitors ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada.

Jonny was a student at SFS from Preschool through Middle School. He remembers building dinosaur dioramas in Pamela’s First Grade class, exploring creative writing in Sally’s Humanities class and unforgettable camping trips to Calaveras. Jonny also remembers playing for the Middle School basketball team and being the first SFS team to win a basketball championship. He recalls practicing with the team when the basketball court was located in front of the music room.

Jonny always had an interest in the natural world. Now, 25 years after graduating from SFS, he can still pinpoint how the academic environment of the school prepared and propelled him for a career in natural science. His time at SFS fueled his passion to create ecological solutions. It is where he first engaged in social and environmental activism. He remembers starting an informal environmental club during his late Elementary School years with Erika, current 6th grade Humanities teacher, and Sally, former Humanities teacher, as advisors. Jonny recalls becoming aware of his place in the world during a class trip to Yosemite. He went on to write his High School application essay on that experience.

Learning through play and intellectual curiosity continued to shape his academic experiences and professional roles. Jonny attended Lick-Wilmerding High School and later the University of California, Santa Cruz where he majored in Biology. Later, he earned his Master’s degree in Forest Ecology at Oregon State University. In 2012, he completed his PhD in Forest Ecology at the University of California, Berkeley. Now Jonny works as an ecologist for the Sierra Nevada Network Inventory and Monitoring Program through the National Parks Service. He conducts long-term monitoring and research to inform management on how to better care for the parks. Jonny is currently leading two projects: tracking the condition of pine trees in the southern Sierra Nevada and conducting community assessments of high elevation wetlands. Jonny’s journey after SFS proves to be one of lifelong learning and care for the natural world – values that SFS continues to instill in its students today.

Posted November 22, 2016