Environmental studies major Jarret Katz
Photo by Lisa Tossey
Jarret Katz is a youthful Renaissance man—artist, athlete, and environmental activist. During summer 2011, all of these interests came together for the University of Delaware junior in an internship at the University of Rhode Island energy center.
An environmental studies major in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Katz started out in biology. But after one semester, he felt that bio wasn’t a good fit for him, and he decided to explore other options.
“I came across a listing for environmental studies,” he says, “and it just clicked. I was raised to be an outdoor person—I grew up ten minutes from the beach, I’ve been skiing since I was three years old, and I love to hike. Protecting the environment for those kinds of activities is important to me.”
Katz is still passionate about the environment, but his internship with Prof. Marion Gold at URI opened his eyes to the complexity of environmental issues. He spent the summer working with Gold to launch a new energy program aimed at helping residents make their homes more energy efficient.
“Working with the Energy Council and the utility company on this project gave me an in-depth perception of how these things work,” Katz says. “Many of the students in my classes are so ‘pro-green’ that they don’t understand the role of economics in making decisions about energy. The money has to be there to make these programs happen.”
That message was confirmed when Katz took an environmental economics class with Prof. John McKenzie during the fall semester. “His very first lecture confirmed everything I had learned over the summer,” Katz says.
The internship not only provided him with real-world experience but also launched a new personal interest—surfing. Some of his summer co-workers invited him to try it, and it quickly became a new passion, with spillover to another of his passions—art.
“I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil,” Katz says,” and beginning in middle school, I’d come home every night and just draw for hours to unwind. Artistic talent seems to run through my mother’s side of the family.”
Katz’s art is heavily influenced by Japanese cartoons, and he over the summer he began to produce water color and pen-and-ink drawings of surfers.
But returning to Newark, Del. in September left him without ready access to an ocean where he could practice his new sport. Not easily deterred, Katz took up skate boarding. He is now the proud owner of a custom long board sporting a large-scale koi fish of his own design. The drawing was done with paint pens, a new medium for Katz.
As he enters his junior year at UD, Katz is considering his career options. “There are so many things I could do with this major, including business or law,” he says, “that I need to do some digging to figure it out.”
Grad school may be in his future, but he hasn’t ruled out art. “I’d love to try to sell some of my designs to a skate or surf company,” he says.
Article by Diane Kukich