How rewarding is it to work with students in the environmental sciences degree program?
It is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I meet them as unsure teenagers who mature as people and as professionals over the years as they pursue their degrees. I can see the transition when I catch up with some of our graduates at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference. I always remember them as they were when they started their academic careers so it is quite an eye-opening experience when I see them as professionals excelling in their professions and having families of their own. It is especially gratifying when I see one of their children come to CAFNR to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
How do you assist those students throughout their academic journey?
I meet with them during Summer Welcome to talk about their academic goals and life plans which I then use to help recommend the appropriate emphasis area within environmental sciences. We plan their courses for each semester and I assist them with the registration process. I am here throughout the year to support students and ensure they receive their degree in a timely manner. I let them know I’m a resource they can reach out to so they feel constant support if needed. I also get to know them through teaching a College Success class each fall for SNR freshmen. Through the course I am better able to familiarize them with campus resources, research opportunities, career readiness activities, and I can get them more comfortable with faculty and staff, which is so beneficial to both of us.
What advice would you give to high school students who are interested in pursuing a degree in environmental sciences?
When I visit with prospective students I tell them about our curriculum, share our pride points and then I like to give them a tour of our great facilities. Many of them want to help the world which is a broad field, so I give them several websites that our graduates use to find jobs, and I tell them to find 10 jobs they find interesting and save them. Compare and contrast them and make a list of things they have in common, also noting educational requirements, and share that with your advisor when you find the right program. This list will help make the broad field of environmental sciences much smaller and help you focus on potential careers.
I also want students to always remain open minded when they get to college. While students work through the requirements for the degree they oftentimes discover a course that they never thought they would enjoy, which could lead to a minor or a double major. They could discover a faculty member who is researching something cool that they want to be involved with and they become involved in research.
What is your favorite part of serving as an academic advisor for this degree program?
My favorite part of academic advising is working with intelligent young people daily including prospective students, my advisees and my colleagues. It keeps my daily life not routine, but an interesting, inspiring and fun combination.