A new natural resources program is offering UCC students a chance to learn hands-on from local experts in fields such as environmental monitoring, ecology and conservation science.
The UCC Associate of Science program is titled Natural Resources: Landscape Monitoring. It is designed as the first two years of a four year OSU degree. Students can transfer all of their program classes to the OSU Natural Resources bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree can then be completed through OSU’s online Ecampus; students will not have to relocate to Corvallis.
“We created our own specific major so we were able to add some unique classes that aren’t offered at OSU,” said biology professor and program advisor Ken Carloni.
These include a series of classes on environmental monitoring methods, debuting in fall 2016, that span all three school terms and will allow students to experience the seasonality of field work.
“This is so that when it’s time to survey for macro-invertebrates in streams, you’re not teaching at a time when they’re not in the streams” Carloni said, “If you’re snorkeling for salmon redds you’re not going to find them except at certain times of the year.”
The new classes put the emphasis on using the resources and opportunities of the local community. Approximately 64 percent of Douglas County land is under the control of a federal or state agency. The Natural Resources program is looking to bring this expertise into the classroom and lab in order to give students a practical, real-world experience of these agencies’ standards, methodology, and equipment.
Brian Benz who teaches several classes in the program has worked under the US Forest Service as a botanist for the Umpqua National Forest for the last ten years.
“I’m having people come talk to the class, not just federal agencies but also from the private sector, to kind of introduce them to what’s going on here in this area. There are jobs in this area,” Benz said.
Lawrence Davis, who teaches the water resources class, says he is being loaned measuring instruments from people that work in the industry for students in his class to use.
“They’ll get a chance to get familiar with the exact types of instruments that are used in the field,” Davis said.
His course, which focuses on gathering and analyzing data from forested streams, includes labs conducted at the campus section of the North Umpqua river.
“We will work on measuring turbidity, flow velocities, flow volumes, width depth, temperature, PH,” Davis said. “I’m hoping to have at the end of the class a couple field trips down to the local streams to actually measure some of these things in small forest streams.”
Also part of the new program curriculum is a six day botany tour that consists of a 900 mile loop through southern Oregon and northern California. The tour passes through the Siskiyou Mountains, the Oregon Lava Beds, and the Mount Shasta and Crater Lake areas, regions which are among most richest spots on the planet for plant biodiversity, Carloni said. It has already been going on for four years but will be expanded for the new program to include three separate classes.
Laura Marchi, a former UCC engineering student now at OSU, took the botany tour in spring 2015.
She tells stories of swimming in waterfalls, learning to collect and classify plants on hikes, and finishing off the day with campfire stories and music.
“The people involved were both students and travelers in their own right, with both a thirst for knowledge of plants, but also our whole world,” Marchi said, “It was an intensive week of learning and exploring. And best of all, it will stick with me my whole life, unlike any other college class I’ve ever taken.”
With the Natural Resources: Landscape Monitoring degree, teachers are looking to combine these immersive learning experiences with expert training on career-applicable skills for the students of UCC.