Paper No. 18-3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
MATCHING SKILL TO NEED: A MULTI-INSTITUTION APPROACH TO FIELD-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL STEM (ESTEM) STUDIES AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS
The three-year NSF-GEOPATHS field-based professional development program for ESTEM undergraduates has provided two cohorts of students from three different academic institutions field training and professional networking opportunities. The program objectives are: (1) increase students’ awareness of and access to a broad group of local professionals working in the environmental sector, (2) provide opportunities for students to learn and practice a variety of field methods in various sub-disciplines, and (3) facilitate student understanding of potential pathways to future careers. Two new courses were created in pursuit of these goals: a field-methods course during June 2017 and 2018 in Eastern California and a professional development seminar at each home institution. Students practiced field-based skills required for environmental careers, completed a variety of field projects in geology, geomorphology, hydrology, and botany, and engaged with stakeholders working in various environmental careers. Across the three collaborating institutions, College of the Atlantic (COA), University of San Francisco, and Mt. San Antonio College, the program has trained over 40 undergraduates. Following the summer field course, COA students enroll in the ESTEM Professional Development Seminar where they engage with local stakeholders and ESTEM professionals in the MDI region, and learn a new skill of their choice. Students are encouraged to network with local professionals particularly relevant to their individual career ambitions. Preliminary data collected through surveys and curricular material assessments suggest that this program has given students awareness of the skills and content knowledge needed for ESTEM careers as well as competency in a range of field-based and other professional skills.