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Environmental resources management

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What is environmental resources management?

Today’s environmental problems are increasingly complex and require a broad understanding of ecosystem management, which is what this major offers. You’ll develop critical skills and the expertise needed to manage environmental resources from different perspectives and orientations, such as forest resources, water, and environmental law and policy. You’ll also combine this knowledge with the hands-on experience demanded by current employers.

Learn more about this major and the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.

What will I learn in this major?

Students majoring in environmental resources management take courses to fulfill major requirements in areas such as chemistry, forest ecosystems, forest soil and watershed management, forested wetlands, geology, and statistics. Additional coursework is also required in forest science, geospatial analysis, environmental economics, and natural resources policy.

Virginia Tech owns more than 2,000 acres of forested land that is available for student and faculty research, including the old-growth Stadium Woods and the 1,353-acre Fishburn Forest.

Why study environmental resources management at Virginia Tech?  

  • All students in the major enroll in Field Experience in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, a hands-on field course that helps students develop key skills in navigation, mapping, taking inventory, resource conservation and management, timber harvesting, and forestry operations. Watch a video of students working in the field at Fishburn Forest.
  • You can take part in an undergraduate research projects such as studying wildfire hazards and risks and risks in the Great Smoky Mountains or conducting an ecological assessment on a forested section of the Virginia Tech campus.
  • Internships are highly recommended and encouraged. Watch our internship videos and learn more as students talk about their experiences at the Harvard Forest, Virginia Department of Forestry, and other sites.
  • An overseas study trip can take you to Panama as part of the Issues in Natural Resource Conservation course, where you’ll learn about natural resource management and conservation issues, the impact of climate change on tropical environments and culture, and the impacts of tropical deforestation.
  • You’ll learn from faculty like Carolyn Copenheaver, who works to ensure her students have the communication skills needed to be successful professionals, and Daniel McLaughlin, who is researching the role that wetlands play in the carbon cycle.
  • Students can take advantage of opportunities to understand and participate in restoration challenges, like 2020 CNRE Outstanding Graduate Brittany Christensen, who volunteered at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to identify and map invasive species, worked on urban forest hydrology research, and measured some of Virginia’s largest trees.
  • You might be interested in one of the integrated Pathways minors such as biodiversity conservation, blue planet, data and decisions, or peace studies and social justice. The addition of a minor will give you additional expertise, allow you to pursue a passion, and help you stand out in the job market.
  • Student organizations such as the American Water Resources Association Student Chapter and the Wildland Fire Crew provide opportunities to make connections and get involved on campus and in the community.

What can I do with a degree in environmental resources management?

Graduates in environmental resources management may enter the job market or pursue a graduate degree in the field. Career possibilities are listed below, and potential employers include the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, state and local parks, land management agencies, environmental consulting firms, civil engineering firms, and nonprofit conservation organizations.

  • Environmental consultant — Assesses air, land, and water contamination.
  • Environmental resource manager — Manages the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment, and finds innovative management solutions for businesses and government clients.
  • Forester Plans, maintains, and preserves forests and forest resources for public agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Hydrologist — Applies scientific knowledge to solve water quality and availability problems.
  • Nonprofit environmental organizer — Compiles and analyzes data on environmental reports for nonprofit organizations.
  • State staff forester — Leads forestry teams, guides forest management work, and communicates with different agencies and organizations.
  • Sustainability coordinator — Works to help make a business or educational institution run as efficiently as possible, limit its impact on the environment, and reduce costs.
  • Wetlands manager — Conducts activities in and around wetlands in order to protect, restore, and manage these areas for a variety of uses.
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