PARKERSBURG — Nate McPeak, 15, wants to get a degree in environmental science.
“I hope one day to work in conservation and do research in the field”, McPeak said. “I want to keep the world I love beautiful.”
McPeak said both of her grandparents on her mother’s side, Tomas Rodd and Judy Rodd, were involved in conservation projects. He said his grandmother is also the founder and executive director of Friends of Blackwater. Friends of Blackwater is an organization that works to protect and promote the woods, wildlife, waters, and recreational opportunities in the High Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.
“I would like to work for a group or part of government that is studying ways to reduce fossil fuels, or an organization that is working to protect a specific natural species or environment,” he said.
McPeak said his love of birdwatching gave him an interest in studying and protecting nature.
“Since my forties, I started to like birdwatching,” he said. “I have a range of bird feeders in my front yard and a camera setup to watch them.”
McPeak used to think there were only pigeons and sparrows in town, but he soon realized just how much variety there was.
“I love the wide variety of birds you can see, they all have very different abilities and attributes,” he said. “I also realized that birds that I found boring like the cardinal were just as cool as tropical birds,” he said.
McPeak said he loved his science classes at Parkersburg High School. He said he had a 4.0 GPA and took all honors courses. He is also a member of several clubs and extracurricular activities. McPeak is a member of the PHS band, the tennis team, the jazz band, three science clubs, the Science Olympiad competition, the Jets, and the Science Bowl team.
McPeak also attends Bible study and youth group at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Parkersburg. Along with her youth group, McPeak helps plan youth events at the church and even volunteers serving lunches at the Salvation Army.
In the future, McPeak wants to attend school at Earlham College.
“It’s the university where both my parents went, and it has a good biology program,” he said.
McPeak said he wants to pursue studies in environmental science, biology or astronomy.
“I enjoy observing and learning about the natural world,” he said.
McPeak said his dream job would be to work for NASA in the biology or botany department.
In his spare time, McPeak enjoys riding his bike, playing games with his friends, playing the saxophone and has recently taken up reading. He says he is also interested in astronomy. He said the hobby was first introduced by his grandfather to his father and passed on to him.
“I used to think you could only see small dots with amateur equipment and only NASA could see the details, so when I first saw Saturn’s rings with my own eyes, I I was immediately hooked.” he said.
McPeak shared that he recently purchased an eight-inch Sky Watcher foldable Dobsonian telescope.
“I use it every clear night to see things like the Orion Nebula,” he said.