Alumni Spotlight: Jody Palmer

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Hero for Conservation

Jody Palmer ’07 is director of conservation at Brevard Zoo. Focused on conservation awareness and education, she also volunteers her time on the Florida Tech Alumni Association board of directors.

“All my life, I wanted to live in sunny Florida. Somewhere that I could see manatees often and spend time on a beach. I mean … is that too much to ask for?! After beginning my college career in Texas (per my overprotective parents’ instruction), I realized a few things about myself. 1. Texas wasn’t for me and 2. I was stubborn and would only succeed by doing what I put my mind to. It wasn’t long before I found my way to the place I always dreamed of and officially started my life in Melbourne at Florida Tech. All was right with the world; my world anyway.

My years at Florida Tech taught me much about science but even more about hard work and building professional relationships with amazing people around me. Dr. Frank Webbe helped guide me in recognizing just ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ and my financial aid work-study position at Brevard Zoo began what later developed into my career. A career that I look forward to reporting to each day and a career where I am making a difference in the world.

Brevard Zoo is doing amazing things to help wildlife conservation both locally and internationally. Melbourne is so fortunate to have a private, nonprofit zoo right here in Brevard that is dedicated to educating and empowering the community to act for conservation. I feel so grateful to be a part of the solution, whether it be healing our Indian River Lagoon through the re-introduction to millions of native filter-feeding oysters or supporting the world’s leading field researchers on a variety of endangered and threatened species.

The role as director of conservation at Brevard Zoo has allowed me to create a position that allows me to be involved with a variety of projects that I could have only dreamed of. From sustainability planning to manatee rescue or working with the state legislature to raise awareness of conservation needs to mentoring the next generation of conservationists, I welcome a variety of challenges that raise awareness to accredited zoos and the work being done for conservation.

When approached by the FIT alumni association regarding joining the board, I willingly accepted. Joining this group of amazing individuals has allowed for me to give back to the university that helped establish my life’s course. Additionally, it’s such a fun way to connect and reconnect with like-minded people—almost like having a second chance at college life but this time I get to pay it forward.”


DEGREE: ’07 B.A. Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis

FAMILY: Husband Brandon Palmer ’99; son Graham, age 7

HOBBIES: Traveling, scuba diving, triathlons, section hiking the Appalachian Trail

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Each year, I check off at least two things from my bucket list. (Yes, I have an actual list). Last year it was to swim with whale sharks.

NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: Walt Disney World and Field & Stream magazine both named me as a ‘Hero of Conservation’

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A FLORIDA TECH ALUMNA: Living locally which includes being able to give back to FIT often and watch as it grows. I love the sense of pride I feel when people ask where I went to school, and I reply ‘Florida Institute of Technology.

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Christena Callahan is editor of Florida Tech Today magazine.

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