Everyday we use natural resources; a lot of the time without even thinking about it. We heat and light our homes, wash our clothes, cook our food, and use transportation. The good news is that we are becoming more aware that the resources we use such as timber from trees or oil from the earth are often non-renewable and must be managed correctly in order to ensure their continued use. Conservation is the scientific practice of preserving, maintaining, and renewing the ecological systems that sustain life on this planet.
If you are interested in sustainability and how eco-systems co-exist, a degree program in natural resources conservation and research could be the perfect focus. This program allows you to study biology, ecology, statistics, history, humanities and sociology in preparation for a career managing and conserving the world’s resources.
Though the program titles may vary – conservation and restoration ecology, forest resources and conservation, wildlife resources, ecology, evolution & natural resources – the idea is the same. If you are interested in a career in the field of conservation, there are a number of schools that offer appropriate degree programs. And while actual course work may differ from campus to campus, you will likely find yourself taking courses in such subjects as:
If you are interested in natural resources analysis and conservation, you have a lot of options when it comes to the degree program you might choose. Though there are Associate degree programs available (such as the AA in natural resource conservation law enforcement available from Finger Lakes Community College, for those who want to work for the government), it is more common to obtain at least a Bachelor degree.
Generally a bachelor degree will land you a scientific technician position in a wide variety of organizations. However, to move beyond that you will likely need graduate work and an advanced degree. Regardless of your career choice, increase your marketability through internships, good grades, and involvement in college activities.
It is important to have a scientific and analytical mind when it comes to the study of natural resources. However, at the end of the day, you will need more than just an understanding of the subject matter. You will need skills such as:
If you’re considering a career as a conservation scientist or forester, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employment growth will likely be about average over the next few years – somewhere around 12%.
Whether you are looking for a traditional college program or one at an online college, there are several undergraduate and graduate programs available. You might consider Oregon State University’s eCampus program for a BS in natural resources or consider the distance education program from Texas A&M University which offers a Master degree in natural resource development.
A degree in natural resources conservation can lead to a variety of careers in fields such as fishery management, soil conservation science, forestry services, consulting and government agencies. In fact, according to the BLS about 68% of conservation scientists and foresters work for federal, state, or local governments.
And when it comes to job titles, you might want to consider positions as forester, organic farmer, park ranger, environmental educator, fish and wildlife biologist, watershed ambassador or naturalist.