Quentin Ikuta

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Quentin is one of the two Community Volunteer Ambassadors (CVAs) of the June cohort, working with the National Park Service at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. He is passionate about environmental/agricultural economics, social justice, sustainable systems, species identification, prairie restoration and management, clean rivers, geospatial analysis, and ecological biodiversity. He holds a B.S. in Applied Economics with a concentration in Sustainability from the University of Minnesota. He grew up in a culturally diverse environment, attending elementary school in, and hanging around, the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul. In this environment, as a young Japanese American, he felt that his identity was accepted and celebrated. His community and group of friends encouraged sharing of culture, embracing our differences and learning from one another’s experiences. Although culturally and ethnically diverse, the Rondo neighborhood lacked ecological biodiversity despite existing within easy access to the mighty Mississippi River. At age 12, he moved to the St. Croix River valley. There, he discovered the power of freshwater systems and the world of ecological biodiversity. The St. Croix River’s vivacious valley impressed in him an inevitable truth, a paradoxical truth about his existence. When he moved from the city to the country, he was forced to trade cultural diversity for ecological biodiversity. Each environment in which he was raised, despite its flaws, has taught him about the various sides of diversity, whether it be in the anthroposphere or the biosphere. This diversity paradox underpins his life mission: to create opportunities and serve as a role model at the intersection of culture and ecology through conservation and volunteer work. Quentin imagines a world where cultural diversity and ecological biodiversity coexist.