Rutgers alumna Lara Vezard graduated from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) in 2022, majoring in animal science on the pre-veterinary medicine and research track and minoring in sustainable global food systems.
Upon graduation, Lara started a master’s program with Miami University, which is in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society. She attends classes at the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium, where she is continuing to nurture her passion for wildlife conservation. In December 2024, Lara will complete the program and earn her master’s degree in conservation biology.
Lara began her work in conservation immediately after walking the graduation stage. She worked for Rutgers as a lab animal care technician for one of the vivariums on Busch Campus, where she maintained animal colonies and worked with a new artificial intelligence system to monitor them. She also worked with Conservation Corps through Middlesex County, where she did trail maintenance and invasive species management in the county’s parks.
Lara recently started a new opportunity with an AmeriCorps program called “New Jersey Schools Climate Change Corps,” which is in partnership with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Food Waste Team. Here, Lara will teach 5th graders in New Brunswick public schools about climate change and food waste management. She will also be helping to implement sustainability projects at the schools, such as composting and building pollinator gardens. She says the goal of this role is to inspire young students to think about their impact on the environment despite living in an urban area.
While at Rutgers, Lara was a member of Alpha Zeta, known as the SEBS service, professional, agricultural, and co-ed fraternity. She was a member as well as the chapter’s “dad,” where she helped to recruit future fraternity members. Through her connections at Alpha Zeta, Lara was able to get a veterinary technician position at a veterinary office.
“Alpha Zeta was life changing. It really made me feel like a part of a community, and everyone there is nature-loving, animal-loving, and wants to make a difference in the world. It’s definitely what I miss most about SEBS.”
Lara offers this advice to current Rutgers students. “Do something you’re passionate about and focus on the personal reward as well as the positive impact you can have on your community. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and others.”
This article was written by OPOC intern Emily Ranieri.