Jiayi Yang is putting sustainability theory into practice

Using what she’s learned in the Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism major, Jiayi applied her knowledge of sustainability during an exciting summer internship at Nanjing Agricultural University.

Jiayi Yang stands in front of a sign

Ever since she was little, Jiayi Yang has felt drawn to traveling and spending time in the garden. Both of these hobbies led her to choose Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SPRT) as her major at MSU.

In summer 2020, Jiayi completed an internship at the Peanut Research Institute at Nanjing Agricultural University. There, she shared excellent suggestions on how to improve the sustainability and reach of the Institute’s programs.

Dr. Chuck Nelson praised Jiayi for the work she completed during her internship in CSUS 493, noting that her reports were “always interesting and illuminating” and her suggestions for “how to increase sustainability [were] logical and well thought out.”

Jiayi believes that putting knowledge into practice is one of the most important parts of learning in the SPRT program.

She says, “It is important to learn theoretical knowledge. But it is also important to acquire knowledge in practice. Practice can help us better master and apply theoretical knowledge. So be sure to do more internships!”

Jiayi’s work in SPRT has helped her advance toward where she wants to go in her career. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates from MSU so she can better support the sustainable development of cultural heritage tourism sites.

Read more about why Jiayi is inspired to make sustainability a central part of her future career!


Nanjing, China


Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism

Why did you choose Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism?

I like gardening. My fondest memories of plants and horticulture come from gardening with my grandfather. As a little girl, my first job was as a gardener. In addition, I like traveling very much. I think traveling can take me away from my original life and make me feel the meaning of life again.

I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do when I joined MSU as a freshman, so I took as many diverse classes as I could to figure it out. Last Christmas, my grandfather asked me, "Would you turn your hobby into a career?" It was a good idea, so I chose Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Who or what inspired your interest in sustainability?

The Great Wall of China is a famous world cultural heritage site. The 21,196 kilometer long wall is more than 2,000 years old. When I visited last summer, I learned that 30% had disappeared from history due to the huge number of visitors and natural erosion. This fact inspired my interest in sustainability, and I hope I can make contributions to the sustainable development of cultural heritage and tourism in the future.

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?

My best experience was when I was taking CSUS 200 last year and professor Matt Raven showed us around the recycling center and asked us to sort trash. CSUS 200 is a course that introduces sustainability. I had never been to a recycling center before. I didn't realize how hard the work was and how important it was to sustainability until I started sorting trash myself. I personally put the recycling into different categories, and now I have a deeper understanding of how to make it become a resource again through sorting, transportation and recycling. It also deepened my understanding of sustainability and made me more environmentally conscious in my life.

What do you want others to know about this major?

The major has excellent teachers like Crystal Eustice, Michael Everett, John Kerr, Chuck Nelson, John Paskus, and Matt Raven, who are eager to help every student. This past summer, I worked as an intern at the Peanut Research Institute of Nanjing Agricultural University. This university is one of the best agricultural universities in China. The knowledge I gained in the courses of CSUS 200, CSUS 273 and CSUS 433 was of great value to my work.

During the internship, I planned and wrote a Peanut Festival activity plan with the theme of promoting a safe, high-quality and sustainable peanut industry chain, as well as the vegetable and fruit sales plan for an experimental farm. In addition, I suggested that the Institute improve community participation and sustainability in the education of children and adolescents, for example, by providing opportunities for classes and field trips to local schools. These opportunities provide children and adolescents with more experience and resources on health, agriculture and natural systems. I also put forward suggestions for the development of a pear orchard ecological cycle to the Institute. My proposal and suggestions have been affirmed by the Institute.

What are your future plans?

I plan to study for a master's degree after I graduate from MSU.

What’s your favorite thing about MSU?

My favorite thing about MSU is the Writing Center. Being an international student, the Writing Center has helped me a lot. When I first came to MSU, I often lost a lot of points in my assignments due to grammar and tenses. However, after I got to know the Writing Center, my writing level has greatly improved. Not only can they give me advice on grammar, but they can also give me effective advice on the whole assignment. I think this is a great help in my study abroad career.

In addition, the Spartan Global Day of Service held by MSU every April is my favorite activity. It shows Spartans' passion and commitment to the world.

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