The NRES degree provides a broad education in the social and natural sciences that underpin natural resources and environmental science. The required focus in an Environmental System Emphasis Area and an Analytical Skill Development area allows students to follow their specific passion, building on the NRES core disciplines. Coupled with the opportunities described below, students emerge from the NRES program with the necessary knowledge, excellent skills, and professional experience that together lay the groundwork for success in pursuing employment or graduate school.
The curriculum is strongly writing-intensive compared to many majors. One of the first courses in the major is NRE 301, Natural Resources and Environmental Science. This course has a significant writing component that focuses writing on issues relevant to natural resources and environmental science and includes multiple opportunities for improvement. Two required science courses, Forest Ecology, and Forest Hydrology and Watershed Management, also emphasize writing and nurture students’ abilities to analyze and write for scientific and lay audiences. NRE 381, Natural Resource Analysis, requires students to develop their skills in writing policy memos.
The NRES curriculum emphasizes experiential learning. While pursuing an NRES major, students go on field trips of various kinds, from the three-week summer camp that allows students to immerse themselves in an outdoor classroom, learning from faculty and non-academic professionals, to a weekend trip to the Mammoth Cave Region. Many NRES courses, such as Forest Ecology, also incorporate field exercises.
All NRES students also complete a pre-professional, off-campus Internship or Research Project. This provides students with the opportunity to work in a professional context on something that is of specific personal and professional interest to them. By connecting their internship or research project with their chosen focus areas, students are able to build strong connections between academic work and application.
The Capstone course (NRE 471) provides students with the opportunity to apply the skills and information acquired in previous courses to a specific natural resources problem, engaging professionals and other stakeholders to develop solutions. Students develop skills in teamwork, field data collection, analysis, and oral and written communication as they work on a project that culminates in a final presentation to stakeholders accompanied by a written report.
Students also experience and benefit from one-on-one faculty interactions, which occur initially through student advising and are then enhanced through familiarity developed through field trips, general faculty accessibility, and in some cases, having the same instructor multiple times.
And to top it off, since the program has been in existence for over 18 years, there is a strong network of former graduates working in natural resources and environmental science jobs throughout Kentucky and well beyond. Many of these graduates now offer internships to NRES students, as well as professional positions after graduation.