Erin Medvecz ('15)
What attracted you to the environmental studies program at CSB/SJU, or even to environmental studies in general?
I have always have had an interest in Environmental Studies and the natural world. I personally want to be able to give back to the Environment, focusing more so on the biological level, which made me unsure as to what major I would like to pursue when I first enrolled here at CSB/SJU. But after comparing the Environmental Studies Curriculum to the Sciences Curriculum offered, I chose to study Environmental Studies because of the wider variety of courses that encompass a broader spectrum of topics that I would have the opportunity to take.
What were the most important, and/or beneficial, aspects of your coursework?
One of the most beneficial aspects of the coursework I have taken so far is that I have been able to find a career track that better suits my passions and goals in life. For example, I was able to learn about prairie ecosystems with the Environmental classes I have taken so far, and because of this opportunity I was really able to discover which side of Environmental Studies I wanted to focus on, which is the biological level. Also, being able to learn about environmental perspectives through different courses, from humanities to sciences, to math, and to theology, was extremely beneficial in its own right. Relating to coursework, I feel GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has been very beneficial for me, because there are so many fields that require this knowledge.
What has been your favorite Environmental Studies class (es) and why?
Environmental Science has been one of my favorite classes because it gave me the opportunity to apply what I have learned in the class out in the field, for we did a lot of field work relating to the prairies that are in Saint John's Arboretum. I also enjoyed this course because I felt that being able to utilize the Saint John's Arboretum for a learning experience was extremely helpful.
Have you been involved with any other related activities on campus?
I was an Eco. Representative on campus during my first two years on Saint Ben's campus. With this position, I would advocate to the students how to adopt ways of dormitory living that were more environmentally friendly. I would also show them the resources and give them tips that would make living more environmentally friendly as easy as possible.
What did you do your ENVR 397 Internship requirement?
This past summer I interned as a Grassland Restoration Intern with The Nature Conservancy, based in Cushing, MN. I worked with a team removing invasive species and administering prescribed burns on Nature's Conservancy's preserves across Central Minnesota. This internship required us to be out in the field every day, which really aided me the opportunity to increase my knowledge of plant species identification. My internship also really clarified what it is I would like to pursue as a career, which is why I tell everyone to go for the internships they want to do, so that way they can test themselves to see if they really like that field.
What is the best part about being an Environmental Studies major?
I really enjoy being an Environmental Studies major because there are so many opportunities to take a variety of classes, which makes me really excited to be able to take new classes offered through the Env. Dept. I also really enjoy being able to get outside into the field and apply classroom experience.
What advice do you have for future students that are thinking of becoming an Environmental Studies major?
Don't be afraid to take a minor that also interests you, for Environmental Studies is a major that pairs well with almost everything else offered here at CSB/SJU.
What advice do you have for current Environmental Studies students?
Take your internship as soon as possible, and don't be afraid to dream big! I would strongly suggest to start applying in your sophomore year if you are able to, that way you are able to get your name out there, even if you don't get the internship right away. I would also suggest completing your internship during summer break, so that you are able to fully devote yourself to it so you can get the most out of it.
I would also strongly suggest to take GIS if you are able to. It is a really beneficial skill to have when looking for a job in the environmental field, post-graduation.
Use the opportunities that are offered through the school to your advantage. There are a lot of opportunities that will allow you to gain more experience and apply what you know to a field that interests you, while still in school. For example, I work for the Arboretum, which allows me the opportunity to share my knowledge of the environment with children that come to the Arboretum on field trips.
I am currently planning on applying for a second internship through the Nature Conservancy. Down the road, I plan on getting a Master's degree in Botany, and then working for a conservation program or company that works to protect prairies.