Jessie Ritter '10 Committed to Defending Wildlife and the Environment

Ever since she left her home in Illinois to pursue a degree in zoology at NC State University, Jessie Ritter ‘10 has been exploring different ways to protect animals and their environments.

Jessie Ritter ‘10 outside the U.S. Capitol grounds.

Ritter is currently working as part of a team at Oceana’s North American office in Washington, D.C. to pass national legislation protecting endangered sea turtles. In this role, she is involved in outreach to aquariums, sea turtle hospitals, and conservation groups around the country to generate support for federal sea turtle legislation. Ritter also coordinates meetings between Oceana and legislative staff on Capitol Hill to encourage sponsorship of the sea turtle bill.

Oceana is the world’s largest organization focused on the restoration of ocean ecosystems. The organization’s scientists identify problems and solutions, and work in conjunction with economists, lawyers, and advocates to achieve results through policy-orientated campaigns.

“My science background is invaluable in this position, as it allows me to comprehend the more complex, technical aspects of the issue. However, equally important is the ability to clearly and rationally communicate the problems and proposed solutions to legislators and to the public,” says Ritter. “I feel that I’ve been very effective in helping to bridge that gap in my work so far.”

Prior to her work with sea turtles, Ritter worked in the Raleigh office of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). At EDF, Ritter provided policy support on two different bills where she conducted legislative research, coordinated lobbying efforts, and tracked bill revisions. In an effort to increase EDF’s involvement with the community and inform future policy work, she also designed and implemented an outreach strategy to gather data on water supply sustainability efforts in rural areas across North Carolina.

“I’m proud to have contributed to the successful passing of two important bills through the North Carolina state legislature – one to improve water resource management by mandating the creation of ecological flow models for all of the state’s rivers, and the other concerning oil spill response, liability, and preparedness in the event of drilling off the North Carolina coast,” says Ritter.

A summary of Ritter’s work at EDF can be viewed here: Park Scholar Helps EDF Score Big Wins for the Environment

Ritter graduated as a valedictorian of her class at NC State. During her undergraduate experience, she served as the assistant director and director of Curtain Call, a public relations committee co-chair for the Krispy Kreme Challenge, and a volunteer at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County. She studied abroad in Peru and Spain, and became a bilingual animal program contractor for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Ritter also interned with the Dolphin and Whale Hospital at Mote Marine Laboratory, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Pharmacy.

“My time as a Park Scholar helped me realize the importance of playing to your strengths while also acknowledging your weaknesses,” says Ritter. “Both confidence and humility are incredibly important qualities, especially for a young professional who is just getting her feet wet in her field.”