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Western Colorado's Selective University

Graduate Highlights

With annual expenditures of over $100 billion, environmental work is a significant part of our economy. Graduates have a variety of opportunities for employment with consulting firms, industry, government, and advocacy organizations. We have a success rate over 90% - that is, nearly all of our graduates who have kept us informed of their positions have found work in the environmental field. A few of the graduates from our program are highlighted below.

Federal Job Standards

Click here for a PDF file showing education and experience required for jobs with the U.S. Federal government in natural resources management.

Kris Allen

Graduation: 1996

Place of employment: Kleinfelder Geotechnical Engineering: a soils, materials and environmental engineering firm with over 1500 employees in 70 locations in the western U.S.

Current Job description: Air Quality Program Manager in support of industrial compliance

Skills and knowledge from the Environmental Science degree program that has been especially helpful: "I learned how to conduct a Phase I Site assessment per ASTM guidelines (taught by Russ Walker): I prepared many Phase I's early in my career and having knowledge on how to correctly perform a Phase I proved to be vital.

I obtained a solid understanding of soil mechanics and how to correctly identify and log soils (taught by Karl Topper): This was a difficult course for me, but it paid off as I directly applied this knowledge performing geotechnical assessments, ground water well installations and soil remediation system engineering support. I even came in 3rd place and won $100 at a soils identification contest which came as a huge surprise to the accredited soil engineers from big name schools.

I gained an appreciable understanding of environmental instrumentation and analytical methods. I continually apply this knowledge for various types of testing and monitoring purposes including stack testing (i.e., large power plants), ambient air monitoring as well as soil and groundwater sampling and testing procedures.

I become aware of air quality compliance as a career option and learned about the basics of air quality compliance from an introductory course in air quality. I gained enough fundamental knowledge to impress my boss during my initial interview and get hired on with Kleinfelder. I have since built my career as an air quality compliance specialist."

Russ Means

Graduation: 1999

Place of employment: Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology

Current Job description: Environmental Protection Specialist working on mine reclamation permits issued by the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board. His duties include review of new permits for construction materials and hard rock/metal mines to insure they meet all the state requirements, inspections of permitted sites to ensure compliance, and enforcement of the state's rules and regulations. He spends 60% of his time in the office doing reviews, generating reports, correspondence and calculating the costs for reclamation bonds. The other 40% is spent in the field inspecting permitted sites, investigating illegal mining activities and evaluating proposed mining operations on-site. He covers everything from gravel pits to uranium mines in environments from the high desert to sub-alpine terrain.

Skills and knowledge from the Environmental Science degree program that has been especially helpful: "As a non-traditional student, I went back to school after a 20 year 'break'. My education at Mesa provided me with an opportunity to tie together some of my life's experiences in mining and environmental work with the education to back it up. The broad curriculum has given me the skills to do practical work like field observations, sampling and site assessments as well as the office skills involved in regulatory enforcement, reports and evaluations that often go hand in hand. In order to qualify for my current job, I had to take a test covering seven different mining and environmental disciplines. I prepared by going over many of my class notes and books from Mesa. I tested in the top 10 in all seven disciplines out of over 100 applicants. I strongly feel that my education at Mesa was the biggest contributor to my success in getting my current job."

Pam Riddle

Graduation: 2003

Place of employment: Bureau of Land Management, Moab, Utah

Current Job description: Wildlife Biologist. Much of Pam's office time for the next several years will be devoted to helping prepare a new Resource Management Plan. She has researched and reported current management practices, habitat condition, species occurrence and potential habitats, threatened, endangered and sensitive species, and what issues and conflicts exist with other resources (i.e., oil & gas, grazing, recreation) and have suggested possible solutions. She is also responsible for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and works closely with USFWS on all projects proposed on public land.

The field work by far is the most enjoyable for Pam and makes up for the many hours behind the computer. She monitors bighorn sheep and antelope, and checks and maintains the guzzlers (water for wildlife). Other field work involves deer pellet transects in the Book Cliffs, bird and prairie dog survey and mapping, peregrine and bald eagle nest monitoring (there were 2 fledglings this year), and fire reconnaissance.

Skills and knowledge from the Environmental Science degree program that has been especially helpful: "My education at Mesa has played an important role in this job. Much of my time is spent researching and synthesizing information, preparing accurate reports and documents, and making defensible recommendations and decisions. Information must be supported by accurate and reliable references. Understanding graphs and charts and being able to interpret them is useful. Another time consuming task is gathering and inputting data to create maps for known habitat, potential habitat, species occurrence and project activities. ArcView is used extensively, but the ability to read and navigate with topo maps is also very important.

Though my main role is wildlife I work closely with other resources such as riparian, hydrologic, vegetative and geologic specialists. Understanding properly functioning stream conditions and riparian systems, macro invertebrates, hydrological functions, local geology and how it affects soils and water are all important when it comes to working together to make resource decisions and implement plans. The most important related resource is in vegetation. Issues such as fire restoration, erosion, dust control, invasion of exotic species, phenology to enhance grazing management, species preference, field identification (especially grasses), monitoring projects, and plant communities and how they respond to environmental pressures all influence wildlife decisions."