Growing up in Iowa, Jordan Reinders was always around agriculture and farming, even though he lived in town. An interest in biology was sparked by his high school biology teacher, who also graduated from Northwestern College. Now working on his master’s degree in entomology at the University of Nebraska, Jordan would eventually like to get a job with a seed company in order to help farmers control pests—a career that would combine his interest in insects with his passion for the outdoors.
What convinced you Northwestern was the right choice?
When I came to visit my senior year of high school, I felt at home the minute I stepped on campus. I was recruited to play golf, and I liked the golf coach a lot. I also knew the biology program was very well recognized, and I just wanted to be a part of that.
How would you describe NWC’s biology department to others?
It’s probably one of the best programs I’ve seen. I’ve been to other colleges and interacted with some of their biology faculty, and I think our professors at Northwestern are just a lot more willing to work with you. They’re really open to helping you, but they’ll also challenge you—whether that’s with your ideas about a certain topic or just challenging you in the material so you succeed in the future. They’re willing to invest their time in you to help you become the best biologist you can be, no matter what field you’re going into. And they have an open door policy, so you can just stop in and talk to them about a research question you have, or a test question, or even just life in general.
What kind of opportunities did you have as a biology student at Northwestern?
Almost every class had a research project associated with it, and for three summers I was able to assist Dr. Tracy and Dr. Furlong with ongoing research in a local forest. We would remove an invasive shrub called European buckthorn and then set pit-fall cups to catch macro-invertebrates like insects and spiders. The research was trying to determine if there was a correlation between the buckthorn and the number of macro-invertebrates, because that plant supposedly releases chemicals into the ground that can negatively affect a lot of different species.
Why did you become a graduate student in entomology?
As a kid, I was really fascinated by insects, but I hadn’t considered making it a career until I took Dr. Furlong’s Invertebrate Zoology class. After that, I began thinking about going to graduate school and doing something I’m passionate about. When I told Dr. Furlong about my plans, she said she thought graduate school would be a good fit for me. That was very reassuring, knowing I had her support. And now that I’m at the University of Nebraska, I’ve found I know how to study effectively and I was very well prepared. A lot of the classes now are actually easier than the biology classes I had as an undergraduate.
Would you recommend Northwestern to others?
Definitely! It’s a really great place to grow in your faith and figure out what you’re supposed to do in life. The academic programs at Northwestern are top-notch and they’re definitely going to challenge you, but if you study hard, you’ll be rewarded and prepared for your future.