Environmental science and 4-H: From a project to a career

4-H has project areas and programs in environmental science. Project and program participation through 4-H can lead to a major in college and a career in environmental science.

Can a youth interested in environmental activities join 4-H? Yes! Environmental science is a project area in the 4-H Program. In Michigan 4-H Youth Development, there are programs and events that help youth learn about different subjects and content related to environmental science.  For example, Michigan 4-H offers entomology, the Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, Junior Citizen Planner, The Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council, Outdoor Adventure Challenge and Shooting Sports. 4-H gives youth the opportunity to learn, explore and appreciate nature. After high school and 4-H, there are opportunities for youth who have a passion for the environment and nature to pursue a major in college and work in a career field related to the environmental sciences.

At Michigan State University, there are opportunities to major in something related to the environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering.

In the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, majors related to environmental sciences are Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Environmental Economics and Policy (in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics), Fisheries and Wildlife, and Forestry. All four majors offer a Bachelor’s degree (4-year degree). Specializations are also offered for the Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. Graduate opportunities for a Master’s and a Ph.D. for each major are also offered. For graduate degrees, there are different specializations, focus areas and programs of study for Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Fisheries and Wildlife, and Forestry.

In the College of Engineering, a major related to environmental science is Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A student can major in Environmental Engineering and receive a Bachelor’s degree (4-year degree).  After the Bachelor’s degree, a student can pursue a Master’s degree or Ph.D. for further study in Environmental Engineering. Other graduate options as a student is pursuing a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering are entering the joint environmental engineering/environmental toxicology program. There is an opportunity to specialize in areas like environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, environmental fluid mechanics, environmental/geotechnical engineering or hazardous waste management.

What are some careers related to the environmental sciences? Some careers related to the environmental sciences include arborist, ecologist, environmental educator, environmental engineer, environmental scientist, fisheries manager, forest engineer, forest pathologists, forest ranger, forest supervisor, wildlife manager, college professor and Extension Educator for Michigan State University Extension.

As a project area, environmental science can be fun and as a career it has much to offer. This career opportunity can all get started as a result of 4-H participation. Whether it is environmental science or any other 4-H project, make the connections with youth for pathways to higher education and careers.

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