Nina Bhattacharyya: NATURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST, USDA
1. What do you like most about living in Gainesville? Where do I begin?
I love that the city is surrounded by protected areas, from Paynes Prairie and Morningside Nature Center, to San Felasco Hammock Preserve. There is so much to do within a short walk, bike or car ride. I also like the ‘small town’ feeling of Gainesville. I often run into friends and acquaintances when I’m at the grocery store or grabbing a bite to eat. One of the most striking things I noticed about the city when I moved here, is that people are active in the community and knowledgeable about local issues. There is never a shortage of interesting conversations or activities!
2. Tell us about your job or area of study.
I work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the field of land conservation. I coordinate a program where we partner with state and local governments, nonprofits and Indian tribes to protect agricultural land from development. I also work on conservation easement programs that protect and restore wetlands and forest land.
3. What’s one of the best pieces of career advice you’ve ever received?
Find a mentor. I have been fortunate to have both formal and informal mentors that have helped guide me in my career. It is through mentorships that I was able to find a job in my current field. Mentors have provided me invaluable advice and helped me develop skills that will serve me well beyond the workplace.
4. Outside of your job, what other activities are you involved in?
I am the founder of the community organization Zero Waste Gainesville. We advocate for our local government to pass zero waste policies and we educate people about simple things they can do to reduce waste. When I am not working on this initiative, I love getting outside.
5. What do you like about ACEL?
When I first moved to Gainesville, I knew I wanted to get involved but wasn’t sure where to start. I went to an ACEL blueberry picking and talked with members about the organization and different committees. I found everyone to be welcoming and engaging and it made the transition to a new city and job so much easier. I decided to get more involved with the organization and became the community service chair. We served meals at Grace Marketplace and the Ronald McDonald House, removed invasive species at a local park and ran a 5K in support of veterans. It was a great experience, and I felt proud of the work we did. Whether it’s serving your community, gaining professional skills, or meeting new friends, ACEL has a little something for everyone.