STONE RIDGE – SUNY Ulster announces it has been awarded a three-year $349,838 National Science Foundation Grant to Support Applied Learning in its Environmental Studies program. The goal of the project is to improve student retention and career readiness in environmental STEM students to fill a growing industry need for qualified workers in the Hudson Valley.
SUNY Ulster offers one of the most affordable Environmental Studies degrees in the region, serving many nontraditional students who may be working, and have limited funds for college, or first-generation students as well as traditional graduating high school students. This grant will offer these students the opportunity to conduct field research during class time, giving them the skills to work for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and in other environmental careers.
SUNY Ulster is augmenting its General BIO II lab with in-class and in-the-field research activities that mirror industry settings and standards. To accomplish this, faculty will work with industry partners, including the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Ulster County Executive’s Office. This collaboration will result in students learning technical skills such as GIS, water quality, and safety as well as soft skills such as problem-solving, effective communication, and collaboration.
Environmental Studies program coordinator and professor, Dr. Jennifer Guiher, states, “We are looking for students who see a career in Environmental Studies as a calling. As these students progress through the program, they will be gaining specific hands-on skills needed by the environmental industry. These skills will make these students desirable to many potential employers. Whether students further their education at a four-year college or university or decide to move directly into a job upon attaining their Associate’s degree, they will be in a position to earn a liveable wage.”
Chris Marx, Vice President for Workforce, Economic Development, and Community Partnerships believes, “This program is exactly what community colleges were designed to do. Working with our partners at the NYCDEP, our faculty can build modern, real-world skills into their curriculum. Our students complete the program ready to move into competitive jobs in this field. Our local employers are able to hire talent right from the community. It is a win-win for our students and the community.
Former Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan, now U.S. Congressman, and his Ulster County team, further fostered the connection between NYCDEP and SUNY Ulster in Environmental Studies and water quality programs.
National, state, and local employment projections indicate a growing demand for skilled workers for those with Associate degrees and higher. A recent article for science.org by practicing scientist and author Adam Ruben, Ph.D. reveals, “We often looked for fresh-out-of-college candidates who had worked in a lab for at least a year and finding them wasn’t easy.
To help support interested students with financial needs, the Ulster Community College Foundation will award $1 million in scholarships this year. Students fill out one application to be considered for over one hundred scholarships.