Jeremy Sueltenfuss knows Colorado State University inside and out. He’s been a graduate student, research associate, ecologist and instructor. Now he’ll add a new title to this list: faculty member.
Sueltenfuss is the newest addition to the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship department faculty, filling a new assistant professor position that will focus on teaching in the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs.
“I’m overwhelmed with the realization that I’m joining a group of faculty from whom I’ve learned so much,” he said. “I’m also honored that I’m able to pass this tutelage on to department and Warner College students moving forward.”
Having recently received his doctoral degree at CSU, this new opportunity completes a journey that has shaped his teaching talents and philosophies. Department Head Linda Nagel said she is pleased to welcome Sueltenfuss to the team.
“His extensive teaching experience and passion for science literacy, and his expertise in wetland restoration nicely complements our programs and will help us expand our focus on restoration ecology,” she added.
Developing a teaching philosophy
Growing up, Sueltenfuss was surrounded by educators. Both of his parents were professional teachers.
“I grew up telling them I’d never be a teacher, and I ended up loving it,” he admits.
Looking back, he realizes his own teaching origins began in high school. He had an inspiring biology teacher who helped him discover his love for ecology. Her methods of focusing on questions, the scientific method and thinking logically through problems have become part of his own approach to the craft.
“Rarely do you come across a textbook example for problems in the real world,” Sueltenfuss said. “It isn’t just about how much you know, but whether you can apply critical thinking skills to solve new problems.”
After gaining experience as a teaching assistant during his undergraduate degree, he moved to Venezuela and immersed himself in the profession. There he taught middle and high school science at the Colegio Internacional de Caracas for two years, before returning to enroll in graduate studies at CSU in 2010. He’s been at the university ever since.
A scientific focus
Sueltenfuss plans to incorporate his own research expertise into the classroom. In discipline and location, Sueltenfuss says he’s right at home. The Longmont, Colorado, native specialized in wetland hydrology and restoration after witnessing fundamental landscape changes happening in his lifetime across the state. The FRS department also recently restructured its undergraduate major offerings to include a new bachelor’s degree in Restoration Ecology.
“I feel like this position was written for me,” he added. “I believe I can play a role in the new Restoration Ecology major and help develop courses in this specialty that aren’t currently offered.”
Sueltenfuss also brings with him several collaborations built with federal agencies, and local and national organizations over the years. His ongoing projects continue with the National Park Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and he contributes his expertise to local conservation organizations. Sueltenfuss hopes these connections will help undergraduate and graduate students get involved in real natural resource issues and solutions not only in the classroom, but in a research capacity as well.
“I want to help students feel that it’s okay to not have all the answers, but to give them the confidence to learn anything they put their minds to,” said Sueltenfuss.
He remembers visiting Rocky Mountain National Park as a child, never imagining he would be working there as an expert, or now instructing future natural resource stewards at the highest level. This is the type of dream he hopes to teach students they can also achieve.