Paper No. 74-14
Presentation Time: 5:10 PM
USE OF A FIELD AND CAREER PREPARATION PROGRAM AS A TOOL FOR RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL STEM WORKFORCE: A REPORT FROM THE ESTEM PROGRAM FOR 2-YEAR AND 4-YEAR COLLEGE UNDERGRADUATES
Although geoscience jobs are projected to grow significantly faster in the next decade than STEM careers overall (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012), issues related to student recruitment, retention, and enrollment are hindering the procurement of adequate numbers of professionals in the geosciences pipeline. This is especially true for groups historically underrepresented in the geosciences (Chang et al., 2014), highlighting the need for curriculum and programs that provide training and support for student persistence in the STEM community and preparation for STEM careers. ESTEM (environmental science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is an NSF-GEOPATHS field and career preparation program for undergraduates at 2-year and 4-year institutions interested in environmental careers. A collaboration between Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), College of the Atlantic (COA), and the University of San Francisco (USF), the ESTEM program involves geology, geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology fieldwork in the Sierra Nevadas and Owens Valley, CA, and interaction between ESTEM students and environmental professionals (“stakeholders”) from agencies such as the National Park Service, USGS, Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, and Mammoth Community Water District. After completing the field component of the program, ESTEM students had the opportunity to participate in career-related activities at their home institutions, including interaction with local environmental professionals, CV and cover letter development, assistance with internship/REU selection, and attendance at professional conferences. We will report on program evaluation data related to changes in student content knowledge, technical and soft skills, career awareness, and career interest. We will also discuss the efficacy of the ESTEM curriculum in recruiting and retaining a diverse population of undergraduates in the geosciences and related environmental STEM disciplines.