Environmental and Ecosystem Science

A CAHNRS student ambassador sits down with two School of the Environment students to discuss their majors.


Carmen: Thank you. Hi my name is Carmen and I’m a student employee here for the College of Agriculture Human and Natural Resource Sciences.  I’m here with two of our amazing ambassadors and we’re here to talk to you guys about Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences. Ryotaro if you want to go first.  

Ryotaro: Hi my name is Ryotaro. I am an Environmental Ecosystem Sciences major and I am minoring in biology and I’m thinking about statistics but we’ll see how that plays out.   

Grant: And I’m Grant. I’m also an Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences major minoring in Horticulture and Forestry.  

Carmen: So what is Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences and how is it different from other SOE majors?

Grant: Sure, well Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences is a really general major in the School of the Environment. It covers a lot of bases. We kind of take pieces from every other major like Forestry and Wildlife. We learn a lot of different things in each, and we have a really broad scope within our major which is really nice because some majors in the School of the Environment get really specific, like with Wildlife you talk about tracking and other things with animals while we get a broader scope of kind of everything. 

Ryotaro: Yeah so it’s similar to other majors but it’s not. It’s similar in that we do have to get like a baseline of everything we’re learning about but we won’t have to go super specific into every all the other SOE Major that being an Environmental Science major might Encompass. So even though we might take little pieces from Wildlife Ecology or Earth Sciences we might not necessarily have to learn about the super specific stuff that they do including like Animal Genetics or Crystallography. So we kind of get to get a general overview of everything and then within our electives there’s tons of flexibility to pick whatever we want to to kind of get on track for what exactly it is that we are interested in.  

Grant: Yeah we really get the opportunity to build emphasis and even build minors into our degree so we don’t have to take extra semesters to get say two minors like I’m doing or you’re doing yeah and on top of that you can take more like Horticulture Focus classes or more water resource classes so then even though you maybe didn’t get a minor or something in it you can say I on your resume got a degree in environmental ecosystem Sciences with an emphasis and Water Resource Management.

Carmen: So interesting. So what type of hands-on activities does WSU provide for SOE students in general or in ecosystem and environmental science students?  

Ryotaro: So Grant and I actually met through SOE 110. That’s just one of the introductory environmental science courses and I don’t remember how soon it was in the semester but it was like almost immediately we were going out doing hands-on work during lab periods with uh planting things on farms and just getting to tour the recycling and the composting facilities at WSU so kind of not only being taught about things that have to do with sustainability but being able to go out see them and actually make a direct impact almost immediately.

Grant: Yeah it’s really nice and we also as SOE students and just W students in general have a real opportunity for internships we get an email from our advisor every other day that’s an internship opportunity a job opportunity or a study abroad opportunity that can really help us with hands-on experience like the summer I got to do an internship over at the WSU Puyallup research and Extension Center and it was my first summer and so we really have the opportunity to start right off the bat with Hands-On experiences here

Carmen: that’s awesome what about clubs any kind of clubs or organizations there are at WSU for you guys

Ryotaro: yes so I was not in any clubs or I guess am not in any clubs right now however last year I was I’ve been in parts of environmental sustainability Alliance environmental science club undergraduate research Club some of those I was more involved with than others because you know as a freshman you should really try out as much as you can because that’s how you figure out what it is that you want to do but with undergraduate research Club that’s not specific to ecosystem and environmental Sciences however it’s pretty applicable to pretty much anyone in the Sciences who’s interested in research and I’m actually in a research lab right now so I think that’s a very helpful Club to do if you’re interested in that sort of thing and then there’s also environmental science club and through them I was able to volunteer at tabling events I did a stream cleanup with them and I also volunteered helping teach kids about science at a kids science and engineering Day event so there’s tons of ways to get involved.

Grant: yeah there’s lots of Club opportunities there’s like Horticulture Club I haven’t had the opportunity to be a part of any clubs because I’ve had a busy schedule and working but I know I want to join Horticulture Club there’s I’m pretty sure we have a raptor Club but we have lots of different clubs that you and like even think of like I didn’t even know Raptor clubs existed so.

Ryotaro: and if you’re interested in forestry there’s a lot available there we have a great Professor Mark Swanson he takes students out teaches them how to do use drip torches how to use chainsaws if you’re interested in any of that stuff so a lot of it’s optional and you’ll have to kind of you know learn who to talk to learn how to reach out but once you do that you can really find a lot of opportunities that are good for whatever you’re going to be doing in the future.

Carmen: yeah so if you guys had to meet with a high school student or prospective student who’s interested in ecosystem and environmental Sciences what would you say to them what is your selling point and why do you love this major so much.

Grant: um I would say there’s so many great things about our major I think one of the best parts for me is just how because we’re on the smaller side of the colleges so we have a really tight-knit program you get to know your professors you get to know everyone else in your major and that’s taking those classes you’ll even sometimes have literally your whole schedule that’s how I have one of my really good friends is we had our entire schedule together last semester because we’re in the same major and so you really just get to know the people you’re with and you get to build these great relationships with faculty where they can recommend you for internships they can recommend you for clubs or different positions and jobs so it it’s really nice I really appreciate it.

Ryotaro: yeah we have phenomenal advisories we get like like Grant said we get things just shot emails shot at us all the time for things left and right and even if you don’t look at all of it which you should by the way but it’s it’s very helpful and I’ve definitely taken advantage of all those opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard about and then I think the other very big selling point is that you can change what your academic focus is without changing your major so you can graduate in good time and realize that you might not want to do the specific thing and because you have so much flexibility in your electives you can kind of redirect what it is that you do either through different minors or certificates.

Grant: or even like going off of that like when I first started I thought I wanted to be in I was interested in policy and then I took one class and I was like oh I don’t want to do policy anymore and so then could switch to more forestry and Horticulture classes and even though that was just one class and it still goes towards my major I just right off the bat was able to learn what I wanted and learn what I didn’t like which is an important thing that you get to learn and to switch focus on so.

Carmen: thank you guys so much for coming and joining us and telling everyone here how amazing your major is if you want to find these ambassadors you can find them on connors.wsu.edu or on our Instagram Connors ambos thanks so much thank you