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Natural Resources and Environmental Science BIANNUAL NEWSLETTER Study Abroad: Cape Town and Dublin Summer Camp 2016: Costa Rica and Robinson Forest NRES on Campus and in the Community




2016 Capstone 3 Alumni Highlight: Becca Aceto 4 Alumni Highlight: Dan Patterson 5 Summer Camp: Costa Rica 6 Summer Camp: Robinson Forest 7 Study Abroad: David Corr 8 Study Abroad: Cape Town 9 Course Highlight: GEO 365 10 Course Highlight: PHI 336 & 531 11 Environmental Law 12 Community: UK Recycling 13 Community: Arboretum 14 NRE 201 Field Trips 15 Steering Committee 16 Cover: Fishing in the Sawtooth Wilderness, Becca Aceto Above: Herpetology in Costa Rica, Keegan Smith

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LETTER FROM THE CHAIR Welcome to the fall 2016 newsletter, complete with a facelift and new format! We hope you find it bold and creative, serving the growing NRES program. As always, strong connections among current students, faculty and staff, and alumni enable the NRES program to continue to innovate, and to grow! This year we have the largest number of students in our history, 108, while we continue to offer an exceptional interdisciplinary and interdepartmental curriculum that allows students to differentiate their program of study to pursue individualized interests. Inside this issue you will learn about two alumni who found the NRES program to be a viable pathway to law school and careers in environmental law; three students who have immersed themselves in study abroad; exciting opportunities for students to be more involved in extra-curricular activities both on and off campus; and much more. We also welcome two new faculty members to the NRES Steering Committee, the group of faculty who oversee curriculum development and delivery of this bold, creative, and growing program to our students. Happy reading!

Dr. Mary Arthur


BUILDING ON PILLARS OF SUSTAINABILITY BY GRACE COY The spring semester of an NRES student’s senior year is one in which the many concepts outlined during their undergraduate career are unified under one pivotal course. Titled “Senior Problem in Natural Resources” this course fulfills the capstone requirement that students must obtain in order to graduate with a NRES degree. Beyond the course requirement, these NRES seniors receive valuable hands-on experience in research methods using a team approach. As a class, NRES students are asked to consider an environmental topic in Kentucky so that they may creatively seek solutions through field work, analysis, and communication of their findings. The 2016 Senior Capstone class worked with Bluegrass Greensource (BGGS), a local non-profit environmental education organization. BGGS harbors a mission of providing education and resources for educators and the public to increase awareness of environmental impacts and ways to mitigate them. Currently, this organization is seeking a structural expansion and an increase in their presence and influence, which promoted BGGS to be targeted for the Capstone class’s focused investigation. The material objective for the semester-

long project was to advise BGGS in the development and implementation of a cutting edge “green” education center on an expanse of undeveloped land. The students also experienced forms of targeted growth that instilled within them a higher level of proficiency in maneuvering the professional world. To ensure adequate coverage of the different components of the project, students were grouped into three focus teams: community engagement, building design, and land management. In their teams, the Capstone class used a variety of research techniques to develop informed recommendations that followed the social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability. The community engagement group used multiple surveys for different target audiences to gather quantitative and qualitative data that would provide insights into the backgrounds, attitudes, and interests of different members in the community as they related to BGGS, environmental education, and other sustainable initiatives in Lexington. The land management group used comparative research and detailed site investigations to construct appropriate specifications for feature installation and site management strategies. The

building design group was tasked with modeling a building that integrated five key sustainability themes: energy efficiency, waste and recycling, water quality, biodiversity, and food production into accessible learning opportunities. The end result of each team’s collaborative efforts was the creation of a site that could accelerate the sustainable education potential of BGGS in the future. An equally important outcome of these efforts was revealed in statements made by students who were asked to reflect on their experience of the Senior Capstone course. Johnathan Matthews, a member of the land management team, explained how students were challenged to be creative in ways never experienced before. “Unlike previous assignments, there were no set directions to complete the work,” he states. “This was something that our team struggled with for a long time because we were used to someone telling us how to do the work. However, after much trial and error, our team was able to get on track. We went on to produce a final report and presentation of which we were proud.” Looking forward, students were also able to see transferrable benefits to their future as environmental professionals. “Capstone helped me improve my group communication, public speaking, and writing skills,” claims Lexi Neukirch, “while also showing me how to work effectively with a local organization to produce concrete results.” The prolific nature of such positive outcomes truly reinforces the quality of this course. Fortunately, these results will continue to prevail for many more semesters to come. Spring 2016 Capstone Students with instructors Dr. Mary Arthur and Dr. Jack Schieffer, and Teaching Assistant Sara Beth Freytag

Fall 2016



CONSERVATION CONNECTION: BECCA ACETO BY LEXI NEUKIRCH “The NRES program changed me from a student who wasn’t sure exactly what direction she wanted to go, to a passionate and inquisitive member of the scientific community. The faculty within the program are excellent examples of where hard work and dedication to your field can get you.” Becca Aceto, NRES ‘13 Many students are unsure of their career paths when they begin college, and determining personal interests and goals plays an important role in deciding fields of study, internships, and careers. One common interest of students in any emphasis area of the NRES program is a dedication to the conservation of the Earth’s natural resources. The interdisciplinary nature of NRES provides a myriad of academic paths to conservation through research, policy, education, and more, giving students the tools necessary to become successful conservationists in any field. NRES 2013 graduate Becca Aceto was unsure of her career path as an undergraduate at UK, but through the close knit community and broad reach of the program she learned that she truly enjoys field research that enables her to have a direct hand in wildlife conservation. Becca found that the breadth of the program made her a marketable graduate to a wide range of employers, and initially accepted a job in Stanley, Idaho where she worked as a Naturalist for the Sawtooth Interpretive

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Above: Becca Aceto fishing in the Sawtooth Wilderness Below: Becca collecting Sage Grouse data in the Sawtooth Wilderness and Historical Association. Becca recommends that all students, no matter their year, begin networking in Lexington with not only faculty and other University staff, but members of organizations in the area. Many types of organizations have conservation missions, and may be available for internships or jobs, part- or full-time. She also encourages students who are uncertain about accepting a job or internship because it’s not exactly what they anticipated to “make the leap,” because every new experience opens doors to future opportunities. Becca discovered her current job as a Wildlife Technician with the US Forest Service through networking with peers in Idaho,

and she couldn’t be more satisfied with the impact she currently has on the future of the greater sage grouse. This experience has helped her to rediscover her love of field research, which she first developed as an NRES student. Becca’s proudest accomplishment is working as a Wilderness Ranger in the massive and remote Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in a previous position. Living and working there not only opened her eyes to the vast places that exist within the US public lands network, but also inspired her to aid conservation and preservation efforts in any way possible. Looking back, Becca knows that her positive attitude, networking, and dedication to conservation have helped her make the most of her career, and she looks forward to where it will take her next!


MEASURING SUCCESS BEYOND THE NUMBERS: DAN PATTERSON BY GRACE COY If you asked Dan Patterson about his anticipated career after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, his response would have been notably different from the position he holds today. Dan’s experiential narrative leading up to his position as a Budget Analyst for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is one that provides inspiration and wisdom for students who will soon embark on their own journey after graduation. His story reveals an unconventional pathway and demonstrates that having an open mind and a willingness to go outside personal borders can often be a way to obtain unique skillsets and find both personal and professional fulfillment. Dan is proof that a career in crunching numbers can utilize the skills of a humanitarian, planner, traveler, and businessman. From his time overseas to executing federal budgets for USFWS, Dan has used his aptitude for taking on challenges to become a wellrounded professional. His decision to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps in West Africa after receiving his undergraduate degree is one that enriched his global perspective and honed his skills for creative problem-solving in the fields of international development, business, and interpersonal interactions. His experiences in Africa did not conclude there. After earning his graduate degree, Dan lived and worked in Madagascar and Niger as an independent consultant, providing assistance to international development organizations. Dan credits these experiences abroad with helping his advancement, as they placed him in unfamiliar environments that required him to quickly assess a problem and formulate a plan to accomplish whatever project or deliverable the situation required. If not obvious, Dan Patterson’s job as a

Above: Dan Patterson, Budget Analyst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget analyst requires him to be good with numbers. When working for an agency with a multi-billion dollar annual budget, and in a climate of shrinking budgets, the ability find solutions that allow your agency to continue to accomplish its mission requires that one think critically and creatively about the numerical obstacles. Equally important is the ability the think beyond the numbers and translate how changes in funding might impact the agency’s mission. For this reason, excellent communication through writing and presentation has been a critical element of Dan’s capacity to translate the wants, needs, and priorities of the agency to a diverse audience. The ability to complete these specialized tasks was not something that Dan originally had much experience in; rather, he refers to gaining competence through a “positive feedback mechanism” that resulted from him taking on new, interesting, and, at time, challenging

positions. “Each job that I have taken pushed me from my comfort zone in terms of knowing how to do different jobs. All required me to get up to speed really quickly and to do the best job that I could,” Dan says. At one time, Dan had never written any budget proposals or initiatives, but his refusal to confine himself to a set plan has created continuous professional benefit. From this growth, Dan stands firmly by the belief that students going out into the world should not limit themselves, and that sometimes a set plan can actually limit the number and kinds of opportunities offered to you. His key advice for students is to take on things that promote broad intellectual growth, as often times our interests, strengths, and talents can only be fully revealed and utilized through “unconventional” experiences.

Fall 2016



A NEOTROPICAL ADVENTURE: COSTA RICA BY GRACE COY One of the most effective ways to understand the concept of sustainability is to be a witness to how this concept is represented in different geographic regions. This summer, 13 students took advantage of this type of unique learning experience by traveling abroad to Costa Rica for their NRE 320 summer camp course requirement. Instructed by Rob Paratley and Dr. Steven Price, students experienced a two week immersion in elements of Costa Rican geography, biology, and sustainable development. Students were asked to relate how these factors raise questions rooted in natural and social science that will define the future of this neotropical region. The group traversed the country from

the mountains and lowland forests of the Caribbean slope to the dry, flat forests along the Pacific coast. Along the way, students were able to witness biodiversity and structural complexity that is unmatched by North American forests. Simple observation of the sights and sounds of these tropical landscapes revealed countless plant and animal species. Over millions of years, these forests and their inhabitants have been changing, adapting, and persisting through both natural and, more recently, anthropogenic changes to the environment. Like massive living, breathing organisms, the forests exist as a constantly shifting mosaic that will, if protected, continue to adapt to global changes over time. Students were asked to consider how these tropical landscapes are appreciated for both use and nonuse values. In Costa Rica, a significant portion of the land is not managed for human utility; rather, it is valued and preserved simply for its existence and the continued success of the species that reside there. The remaining portion of land is valued more heavily in terms of

utility and economic growth, whether through the ecotourism industry or agriculture. Students were confronted with questions that encouraged critical thinking on the positive and negative consequences of these industries as tools for economic development, and how it has had a clear impact on the local population. In this context, a significant ethical dilemma emerges between enhanced economic growth and sustainable land use when dictating the policies and practices of the country. The solutions will be found in the balancing of conservation with development needs through interdisciplinary research and collaboration between the natural sciences and the human dimension. This is something that is already beginning to take place with the help of a variety of research initiatives and international investment. Costa Rica is a country of many possibilities, and there exists an environmental passion there that is an incredibly powerful motivator for continued innovation. As a result, the issues that loom over the future of environmental efforts in this area are not without hope. Seeing this beautiful and biodiverse landscape and contemplating the efforts that go into preserving it was equally inspiring to students as it is concerning. Continued efforts toward conservation are essential, yet there remain many questions as to how these efforts will fit in with the needs of human society. By exposing students to these themes, they are encouraged to better understand the true meaning of sustainability, both locally and globally, in ways that can be applied to their own personal and global outlooks. Top: Hunter Dykes operating a bike used to grind feed for livestock without using fuel at Monteverde. Bottom: Costa Rica Summer Camp students at Monteverde, a sustainable coffee farm.

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EASTERN KY EXPLORATION: ROBINSON FOREST BY LEXI NEUKIRCH Each summer, a group of NRES students drives to a 14,000 acre, old growth, mixed-mesophytic forest in Eastern Kentucky. Surrounded by surface coal mining, the destination, Robinson Forest, is not only a refuge for native plants and wildlife, it is an enormous classroom tailored to the needs of NRES students. This summer, sixteen NRES students made the journey to Robinson Forest. During their first week of studies they settled into their cabins, built their first group bonfire, and made new friends over shared meals in the communal dining hall. They were visited by professors and other natural resource specialists who spent one to two days teaching them particular skills necessary for environmental professionals such as stream restoration, soil science, and GIS. As the three weeks of summer camp progressed, the students took trips to a lumber yard, surface mining site, and the Red River Gorge to learn more about forestry, ecological restoration, and environmental education. Jeremy Scherer, an NRES senior, said that he was most impacted by the visit to the surface mining site, as it was the first time he had witnessed mountaintop removal. It helped reassure him in his pursuit of conservation of natural resources in Kentucky through GIS, especially as it pertains to restoration of previously mined sites. Each subject studied while in Robinson Forest helps NRES students learn what they might want to pursue in the future as an emphasis area or eventually as a career. By receiving an overview of all of the facets of this interdisciplinary major, students are equipped with skills and knowledge to become successful environmental professionals. As the students were becoming equipped with skills they will be able to use in any NRES field in the future, they were also having a ball. After the first week of scattered thunderstorms, the students embraced the warm evenings

Top: Summer Camp Students in Clemons Fork in Robinson Forest. Bottom Left: NRES Senior Emily Mastourudis holding a snake found under a snake board in Robinson Forest. Bottom Right: NRES students waiting to repel at the Red River Gorge. and used their free time for pickup whiffle ball. Each night they built a campfire and organized into teams for a twist on America’s pastime. During their three weeks of summer camp in Robinson

Forest, the students not only learned about natural resources, but also about teamwork, sportsmanship, and various potential pathways to their futures in the environmental field.

Fall 2016




Top: David at the Cliffs of Moher on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland Left: David above a glacial river in Iceland

For David Corr, spending a semester in Dublin, Ireland was not only an experience of academic learning, but also an immersion into his own family history. David, whose father is from Ireland, studied business and environmental science at the University College Dublin (UCD) while living with one of his eight Irish cousins. During the semester he gained a unique appreciation for the country’s natural and historical beauty and for his own family’s roots. While at the University, David took courses in Irish history, finance, and marketing, for his NRES focus areas in International Renewable Resource Economics and Conservation Biology. He enjoyed the unique subjects taught in each of his courses, but his most notable classroom experience was in a Green Venture Finance course, which

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explored the relationships among natural, financial, and social resources. This course provided him with the opportunity to align his focus areas by emphasizing the close relationship between business and the environment, and it helped him better understand potential future career opportunities by providing examples of successful sustainable business practices. When he wasn’t studying, David traveled in Ireland with his family and new friends to see historic sites, ecological preserves, and national landmarks such as the Wild Atlantic Way and the Cliffs of Moher. One of his favorite memories is of visiting the dairy farm where his grandfather grew up in County Limerick. It was a humbling experience to see firsthand how natural resources had played a direct role in his family history, and to meet his second cousins who own the farm today. Prior to his time in Ireland, David spent the summer in Iceland participating in the Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics program offered by School for International Training. These combined experiences taught him how

to fully embrace different cultures and to build a community in a new country. While he learned about many topics in the classroom, David will most remember his new friends and extended family members who made him feel at home while he was abroad. He plans to return to Ireland to visit his family, and has also reconnected with friends from Iceland in his new home state of Oregon. Studying abroad was a fully immersive experience for David, and he recommends that all students take time to explore a culture different from their own. He also suggests fully embracing the local student culture, saying, “at Irish universities it is really easy to join college sports teams and clubs. Through them I learned rowing, got back into surfing, and met a lot of great people.” He studied abroad independently in Ireland, applying directly as a foreign student to the UCD without UK or a program intermediary, and welcomes questions about his experience. David graduated in May 2016, is currently working at the Fremont-Winema National Forest as a wildland firefighter, and is considering attending UCD for a Master’s program in renewable energy finance.


CULTURAL AWAKENING IN CAPE TOWN BY LEXI NEUKIRCH Enticed by the culture and landscape of South Africa, NRES seniors Amelia Baylon and Chloe Vorseth studied abroad in Cape Town during spring 2016. While Amelia and Chloe enjoyed living in the same city and regularly spent time together, their experiences varied markedly. While in Cape Town, they were both exposed to the harsh realities of living in a tumultuous city thousands of miles from home, but through new friendships and each other, each had a very positive learning experience. Amelia spent the semester studying through Arcadia at the University of Cape Town (UCT), a prestigious institution on the mountains overlooking the city. She lived in the dorms on campus, delving in to student activities while taking a full course load. She took classes to fulfill her focus areas of Human Dimensions and Field and Lab Analysis, including Poverty, Development, and Globalization, and Global Change Ecology, which unlike UK classes were taught by multiple professors with specialties such as climate change modeling and global poverty issues. While all of her classes introduced her to new information about

both the environment and the people inhabiting it, her most notable experience came from her professor of Ecology, who used five minutes of each class for open discussion of issues pertaining to students such as wealth disparity in the city and racial issues still apparent on campus. This provided a time for Amelia to hear from her classmates about their perspectives on the political and social state of Cape Town, its education system, and life as a South African. While Amelia was a student, Chloe spent the semester as a UK-sponsored intern for Primary Science Program (PSP), a Cape Town NGO with a mission to aid teachers in the South African education system. Chloe lived in a house in a traditionally black neighborhood with roommates of varied ages, nationalities, and backgrounds, which gave her exposure to the realities of living in Cape Town, including poverty and racial tensions. She learned very quickly that South Africa’s history of apartheid still has very tangible effects in the country today, with racial issues and economic disparity still especially evident in education. However, she found hope for

the future of Cape Town while working for PSP, where she was surrounded by people dedicated to helping teachers, and therefore the next generation of South Africans. Both Amelia and Chloe made incredible revelations during their time abroad. Amelia was inspired by her classes and by the poverty she witnessed to pursue a career dedicated to creating a bridge between social and environmental issues, helping improve both the lives of people and the environment they live in. Chloe’s time with PSP introduced her to the role of a freelance environmental educator, a career which she is interested in exploring further. However, she first plans to attend law school and continue learning about global law and how she can contribute to positive change in environmental and social law. Although studying in Cape Town was a tough cultural awakening for Amelia and Chloe, they both had positive experiences that influenced their academic knowledge as well as their personal goals.

Left: Amelia on a trip to Namibia, watching the sunset over the desert. Right: Chloe overlooking Cape Town, South Africa.

Fall 2016



NATURAL NARRATIVES: CAROLYN FINNEY BY LEXI NEUKIRCH European Americans, African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Latinos in relation to the use of natural resources and land from the 19th century to the present. This investigation begins with an initial “family natural resource history” paper, which allows each student to understand their unique relationship to the environment, or their identity and narrative. This experience can be enlightening, helping NRES students to understand exactly how they are connected to the natural world and why they are interested in environmental careers. The course is reading intensive, with lectures and discussions reflecting and building upon the reading material each week. As an NRES student, the readings and lectures are a valuable opportunity to build upon prior knowledge of environmental policy and sociology, as well as to learn more about history and the lasting implications it has on people and the environment today. Additionally, the discussions provide time to voice thoughts and opinions about the material, as well as hear from students with diverse personal and academic backgrounds.

Dr. Carolyn Finney, UK Department of Geography, The interdisciplinary nature of NRES requires students to think critically about the intersections of the physical and social sciences. Understanding how people relate to one another and to the environment is necessary to becoming a successful natural resource professional. Nature, Resources, Identity and the American Landscape (GEO 365) is a special topics course taught by Dr. Carolyn Finney during the Spring semester that explores the complex history of natural resource management practices of different cultural groups in the United States. The course is open to students of all disciplines, but has a multitude of applications to all focus areas of NRES. Throughout the semester, the course traces the historical experiences of

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A few written exams are delivered throughout the semester to evaluate comprehension of the material covered in readings and class discussions. However, the highlight of the course is the final project, for which students can choose their own topic related to any discussion throughout the semester and select a

medium of delivery. Previous projects have included research papers, creative writing, presentations, short films, GIS maps, and even culinary dishes. This gives students the opportunity to not only uniquely demonstrate their knowledge from the course, but to further explore a topic that interests them and share their findings with the class. Dr. Finney, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography since Fall 2015, “explores how issues of difference impacts participation in decisionmaking processes designed to address environmental issues.” Dr. Finney is a nationally recognized public speaker and writer; her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was published in 2014. She serves on the U.S National Parks Advisory Board, and is a member of the Next 100 Coalition, and organization embracing the 100th birthday of the National Park Service to create a more inclusive approach to stewardship and conservation on our country’s public lands over the next 100 years. As a member of the Next 100 Coalition, she has met repeatedly with members of President Obama’s administration to create a plan to assure that all people are welcome in our national parks. Her interactions with students in this course through lectures, readings, discussions, and films bring a new and necessary facet of environmental education to UK. GEO 365 is especially recommended for those with a Human Dimensions focus area, and will be offered in Spring 2017. Dr. Finney welcomes all questions from students at


BUILDING A LAND ETHIC: BOB SANDMEYER BY GRACE COY One of the most important components of NRES students’ educational training lies in the humanities, specifically in the realm of environmental philosophy. With exposure to this discipline, NRES undergrads become aware of their place in nature and the principles necessary to steer them on environmental issues. Dr. Bob Sandmeyer has taken on the responsibility of introducing these complex philosophical topics to students and helping them navigate new ways of thinking about human relationships with nature. His courses for Fall 2016, Environmental Ethics (PHI 336) and Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic (PHI 531), aim to achieve this by familiarizing students with ethical themes and giving them the language and writing skills to communicate with a contemporary audience. When speaking about his motivation behind the subject matter of these courses, Dr. Sandmeyer refers back to his time spent at Colorado State University as a Master’s student studying philosophy and applied ethics. He became invested in topics surrounding natural resources, which had a dominant presence at the university. His work at The Nature Conservancy in Washington D.C. contributed as well, as it further motivated him to start thinking about human perceptions of nature and how it influences behavior towards natural landscapes. He also found inspiration this past summer at a National Endowment for the Humanities conference titled “Extending the Land Ethic,” where he and a group of fellow educators studied the question of how to extend the ethical principles of Aldo Leopold to problems current today. “When I came to UK, I wanted to create a class that had a variety of students,” says Dr. Sandmeyer when referring to some of the goals his Environmental Ethics course. His intention has undoubtedly succeeded, as PHI 336 has become an

interest of students from multiple majors, including NRES. Having a diversity of students has spurred Dr. Sandmeyer to formulate questions that cater to the various issues that are relevant to their studies. As a result, students who take the course are able to make connections between environmental solutions and their philosophical underpinnings.

special topics course titled “The History and Philosophy of Ecology” (PHI 300). “This course will allow students to study the history of ecology and understand it in the context of what is going on in debates taking place today,” says Dr. Sandmeyer. He encourages NRES students to continue expanding their knowledge in these areas. “I love NRES,” he chimes, “One of my favorite things is having more NRES students in my class. They add a very important dimension to the discussion in these courses.” Dr. Sandmeyer claims that his door is always open (1429 Patterson Office Tower), whether for advice or conversation, so never hesitate to reach out if you are interested in learning more about these courses.

In his upper level course, PHI 531, Dr. Sandmeyer builds upon the content of PHI 336 by pursuing previously visited ethical questions in a “more focused fashion.” The Leopold class builds upon the readings from the ethics course, including authors such as Pinchot and Muir, while also including additional primary source information. “The readings in the first stage of the Leopold class intend to introduce Leopold’s Additionally, he is available via email at writings and introduce thematic concepts relevant to the critical second stage of the class,” states Dr. Sandmeyer. Dr. Bob Sandmeyer, UK Department of Philosophy, at He also expresses the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, MI view that this upper level philosophy course has tangible benefits, as it requires students to “hone in on critical thinking and writing skills in a way that is concise, precise, and elegant.” Most of all, PHI 531 builds students’ ability to communicate with multiple audiences on topics that have the potential to influence the way that society perceives their existence as natural beings in relation to nature. NRES students who maximize the benefits offered by these unique courses will have the opportunity to delve even further next spring, as Dr. Sandmeyer is offering a

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JOURNEY TO JUSTICE: PATHWAYS TO LAW BY GRACE COY AND LEXI NEUKIRCH Sarrah Wightman, Marten Law they want to shape the natural world.

Some students enter NRES with the intention of going to law school, but others, like Sarah Wightman, learn through classes such as Environmental Law that practicing environmental law is the professional pathway through which

Sarah’s career as an environmental lawyer began this fall in Seattle, at Marten Law, following a journey that has been filled with experiences that helped to guide her toward environmental law as a career, beginning with an undergraduate internship at UK with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, in the Division of Compliance Assistance. As a student at UM, Sarah explored various career pathways through summer internships with the EPA in Philadelphia, Earthjustice, and Marten Law, the latter two in Seattle. Taking a variety of science and policy classes in the NRCM program helped Sarah realize that her passions included

Patrick Johnson on a hike overlooking the Harding Icefield outside of Seward, Alaska. a postgraduate pursuing legal research and support initiatives regarding natural resources on a federal level.

Often when alumni reflect on their undergraduate experience, certain aspects of their journey stand out as being pivotal in advancing them towards career goals. For Patrick Johnson, these influential points emerged in many forms, whether through conversations with local professionals or through his work with environmental groups. Having graduated this past spring with his J.D and a Master of Science in Water Resources from the University of Idaho, we asked Patrick to reflect on his unconventional pathway from an NRES undergraduate to

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From the start of his NRES program, Patrick had a passion for the environment that carried over into his work and his studies. His time spent as Program Coordinator with the UK Office of Sustainability enriched his ability to interact with a diverse group of people and drive progressive change. Working for the UK Appalachian Center developed his awareness of environmental and social problems and influenced his desire to pursue justice through policy conversations. His work in land-use planning with the Sonoran Institute helped him gain knowledge on U.S. water policy in relation to its effect on indigenous populations, a topic which he plans to continue to focus on in his future endeavors.

both law and science, and the unique UM program offered her the opportunity to earn both a J.D. and an MS in Environmental Policy and Planning. For current NRES student interested in law school, Sarah recommends doing well in classes, and focusing on writing skills, a very valuable asset regardless of ultimate career choice and direction, but critically important to success in law school and a career as an attorney. She also suggests working for a year or two before going to law school to determine that it is absolutely what you want to do, and researching law schools and law-related careers. This is applicable to many disciplines, but especially to law school as it is very academically challenging. Prior insights into the ways that environmental law and policy can directly influence the natural world motivated Sarah during her years in school.

In 2013, Patrick’s was awarded the UK Sullivan Medallion Award, which recognizes exceptional humanitarian efforts of individuals each year. He continued to live up to this honor in law school, as he pursued opportunities that continued his ability to make informed recommendations on natural resource policy that would secure positive change for citizen groups. Looking forward, Patrick wishes to continue seeking positions that will allow him to assume a strong voice in policy on land-use planning. In considering the reasons for his achievements Patrick acknowledges the importance of having a clear purpose, particularly in his quest for a law degree, “A particular passion and clear reason for wanting to pursue the J.D. will improve acceptance opportunities.” Additionally, he credits his NRES background as making him an appealing candidate to law schools who seek students with interdisciplinary training.


REDUCE, REUSE, AND RAIN BARRELS? BY GRACE COY Nestled under the shady canopy of a southern magnolia tree, a piece of sustainable artwork lives on the grounds of Maxwell Place, the home of UK President Eli Capilouto. Veiled in the handiwork of a painter and operated by the instruments of nature, this object tactfully carries out its responsibilities to conserve, reduce, and inspire on a daily basis. The entity being described is a craftily constructed rain barrel. Simple in design, yet incredibly efficient and useful in water conservation and runoff reduction, rain barrels have become increasingly important household additions for community residents wishing to reduce their ecological impact, such as President Capilouto. The face behind this specific water conservation initiative at Maxwell Place is Michaela Rogers, an NRES student who served as the recycling and waste reduction intern for the UK Recycling Office during the 2015-2016 academic year. Teaming up with UK’s Waste and Recycling Manager Mari Long, Michaela was able to elevate her rain barrel project to this high point of success in addition to multiple campuswide projects that helped to promote conservative resource use. “There are endless possibilities for encouraging recycling and reuse in a campus setting,” declares Michaela, as she reflects on the different projects she took on as an intern. The truth of her statement is evidenced by the multitude of notable waste reduction programs and outreach initiatives that resulted from her active role on campus. As a representative for UK Recycling, Michaela had a collection of responsibilities that included tabling events, activity planning, and marketing different campaigns to both students and educators on campus. These actions were meaningful to Michaela. “These projects and outreach events were important steps towards improving the sustainability culture on campus,” she says, highlighting how the University of Kentucky is undergoing a

shift to higher levels of environmental performance. One of Michaela’s programs included the “Caught Blue Handed” campaign, which sought to incentivize students living in on-campus dorms to improve recycling and waste disposal habits. Others included the “Sustainability Scavenger Hunt” and “Recyclemania”, which both spread awareness of ways that the University can continue to push forward in achieving more sustainable practices among students and faculty. Michaela also had the privilege of attending the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHEE) conference last fall, where she was able to learn about sustainability initiatives on other college campuses across the nation. “The conference was both overwhelming and inspiring. Although it showed me how far our school has to go in terms of achieving a sustainable campus, it proved to me that these challenges can be met,” reports Michaela, who is optimistic about the future of UK as a more sustainable campus. As for the installation of the rain barrel, this was the primary portion of Michaela’s independent project for her internship. She was motivated to establish the rain barrel as a symbol of conservation efforts on campus. Its installation at Maxwell

President Capilouto and UK Recycling Intern Michaela Rogers with the rain barrel installed at Maxwell Place. Photo courtesy of UK Recycling Place required Michaela to execute skillful planning, networking, and fundraising in order to design something that would have a positive ecological impact. She also intended for it to inspire other Lexington residents to use as a simple mechanism towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Due to her efforts, the rain barrel stands as a promotional legacy of recycling and reuse in a way that Michaela had hoped to achieve at the beginning of her internship.

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THE WALK ACROSS KENTUCKY: GROWING DIVERSITY WITH PLANTS AND PEOPLE BY GRACE COY those revolving around how humans connect with natural landscapes. Todd Rounsaville, the Arboretum’s Native Plant Curator, elaborates, “It gives the students a professional experience in the form of real-world interaction with people and nature. The goal is to aim and identify their special interest and allow them to indulge in those interests through targeted learning and projects.” For this reason, the internship programs offered at the Arboretum are incredibly valuable to students. In addition, benefits are granted to the public who can experience the rewards of the interns’ hard work.

program transferable and accessible to natural science teachers, so that they may incorporate it into environmental curriculum.

This type of experiential learning is not limited to university students and staff; it has been extended into Lexington high schools as well. This past spring, the Arboretum had the benefit of working with Cameron Stribling, a student from the STEAM Academy who worked jointly on projects with the Urban Forest Initiative and the Arboretum. Cameron’s interest in plants and agriculture inspired her to pursue this internship as a way to network and get her peers involved in environmental education topics. “This internship has got me thinking about how to be more involved in helping the urban canopy,” states Cameron. Her efforts at the Arboretum paralleled her work with the Adopt-A-Tree program, which is something that she would love to see become part of the science curriculum in Lexington schools. Cameron’s work with Adopt-A-Tree focused on forming a platform that would make the

The prevailing question lies in how the Lexington community can continue to ensure the longevity of this area. Ultimately, it comes down to simply recognizing the existence of these values as they emerge from the opportunities and aesthetic qualities offered by the space. For all the resources that the Walk Across Kentucky has provided to Lexington, both ecologically and socially, it is essential that citizens who place worth in these services give back. Those able to do so can help in the form of volunteering on landscape management projects or by making a donation to WAKY. Such efforts would help in supporting the work that the staff on the Walk undertakes daily to ensure the Arboretum continues to thrive as the urban gem of Lexington.

Volunteers helping with maintenance at the UK Arboretum. Photo courtesy of the UK Arboretum. “At the Arboretum, we take the entire state of Kentucky and put it within 100 acres,” says Michael Patton, who works on the Walk Across Kentucky exhibit at the University of Kentucky Arboretum. This might seem to be a bold statement, but in terms of native plants, the Walk has succeeded in showcasing the diversity of tree and perennial species that exist across the state. Such a collection has helped establish this urban greenspace as one that Lexington residents have come to know and love, whether for education, volunteering, or simply a morning walk on the two-mile loop. In recent years, the continued growth and increasing diversity of the Walk Across Kentucky has made it an ideal location for student interns seeking to enhance their knowledge on various elements of the environment, particularly

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For students like Cameron, the Walk Across Kentucky and the staff that manage it serve as an invaluable resource. As the trees continue to grow and the plant and wildlife diversity become increasingly rich with each passing year, Todd sees that opportunities for learning and research will continue to expand , not only for students, but for staff and faculty as well. That being said, the true value of the Walk is not limited to the pursuits of academia; rather, it represents an area where residents can learn from both the landscape and each other. Robert Castlen, an Arboretum staff member, emphasizes this when asked about the importance of the Walk, “Not only do I have personal value from this place, but I like that it is a place where like-minded people can come and learn together.”


NRE 201 FIELD TRIPS: DISCOVERING KENTUCKY AND THE NRES MAJOR BY GRACE COY AND LEXI NEUKIRCH The NRE 201 field-trip to Mammoth Cave is fondly remembered by many NRES students as time spent bonding with classmates and exploring south central Kentucky’s incredible karst topography. These excursions are also important for student development, for they provide an opportunity to build networks, participate in field work, and gain an awareness of the diversity of environmental positions offed in Kentucky. This fall, NRE 201 students were offered two fantastic field trip options, with one going the classic route to Mammoth Cave and the other travelling to sites in Central Kentucky. The Central Kentucky trip went to multiple locations, including Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort, which proved to be a favorite among students. Here, they received a presentation from a small local farmer who supplies produce to surrounding areas, including Fayette

County. The students who traveled to Mammoth Cave participated in mussel sampling with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. They also took an educational tour of Mammoth Cave National Park and visited a Western Kentucky University research cave. Students on both trips will not

soon forget the experiences they had, nor will they lose track of the networking and newfound skills they acquired during their exploration.

NRE 201 students on the Southern Kentucky field trip in Mammoth Cave National Park with Ecologist Rick Olson.

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The Steering Committee oversees all aspects of the NRES curriculum including advising students, revising program objectives, and directing expansion of the major. This year the Steering Committee welcomes two new members, Dr. Steve Price and Dr. Chris Sass. Dr. Price is and Assistant Professor of Stream and Riparian Ecology. Dr. Sass is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture. We are grateful to have these faculty join in the efforts to further improve the bold, growing, creative NRES program. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Steve Price, Department of Forestry; Dr. Chris Sass, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Jack Schieffer, Department of Agricultural Economics; Robert Paratley, Department of Forestry; Dr. Chris Matocha, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Dr. Brian Lee, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Dave McNear, Department of Plant and Soil Science; and Dr. Mary Arthur, Department of Forestry. Not pictured: Dr. Kevin Yeager, Department of Earth and Environmental Science.


“Our program believes one of the best teachers is experience. Maintaining this philosophy beyond NRES field trips, two of our students, Lexi Neukirch and Grace Coy, redesigned our biannual newsletter. On behalf of all those involved in the NRES program, we’d like to extend a special thanks to Lexi and Grace for their hard work and dedication.” -Geri Philpott, NRES Academic Coordinator


Students and alumni are welcome to submit photos for the next edition of the NRES Newsletter. Send your content to

CAMPUS ORGANIZATIONS Urban Forestry Club and Student Sustainability Council Greenhouse Environmental and Sustainability Club


16 NRES Newsletter

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Fall 2016 NRES Newsletter  

The newly redesigned NRES newsletter!

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