MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — For 11 Skagit Valley College (SVC) students, graduation this year marks the end of an exciting journey and a stepping stone toward their green career.
On June 16th, these 11 students graduated with their Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Conservation (BASEC) from SVC. They represent the initial class of students to earn SVC’s first bachelor’s degree.
“This first class of graduates is making history,” said SVC President Dr. Tom Keegan. “They have set the bar high and they represent the College’s commitment to serving the workforce needs of our community and region.”
Skagit’s BAS degree addresses strong community interest in preserving the environment.
It is guided by two of the College’s strategic priorities: environmental stewardship, which seeks
to promote sound and sustainable environmental stewardship throughout the curriculum, college and community activities, and institutional practices; and aligning educational programs with regional and state economic development strategies.
“Skagit, Island, and San Juan counties provide an incredible natural learning environment,”
said Department Chair Dr. Claus Svendsen. “Our graduates have trained to become highly skilled ecology professionals with a solid understanding of the environmental issues facing our region.”
Since no other baccalaureate in ecology and natural resources is offered in Skagit, Island, and San Juan counties, SVC’s degree increases training opportunities for those seeking a green career.
In addition to classroom and lab learning, SVC’s BASEC students embarked on a number of field trips. They included trips to the North Cascades to explore fire regimes and trips looking at local wetlands, fens, rivers, and estuaries. On each field trip, students took samples using methods within the guidelines for the Department of Ecology. In addition, they made an overnight trip to Lake Crescent for Advanced Limnology (lake science) along with field trips to other local lakes. The lakes are comprised of three different “lake habitats” and their corresponding trophic states, assessing lake nutrients. On these trips, the students gathered samples and ran water chemistry tests to look at the types of zooplankton and phytoplankton (microscopic plants and animals) living in the lake. From those tests, the students determined how much food supply was available in the lake and estimate the number of fish and other aquatic creatures that each system can support.
BASEC course content includes: statistics, forest ecology, advanced wetlands, estuarine and nearshore ecology, data management, professional communications, environmental chemistry, advanced scientific writing, and a capstone project.
Capstone projects are designed from start (project proposal) to finish (presentation to public or private entity). This year’s final projects included a leaf litter decomposition study that identified nitrogen content, an assessment at elk populations and hunting, investigating local amphibian population and survivorship, as well as the study of honey bees.
SVC’s lab is in the final stages of being accredited through the Department of Ecology for water sampling, with additional accreditation expected later this year. This accreditation sets the standard for all students in our lab, methods, hold times, and equipment used are real world and very strict. For SVC’s graduates, it means their prospective employers they are prepared to work in such a lab.
Of this year’s BASEC graduating class, all of began in SVC’s Environmental Conservation program and four of them were hired into jobs before graduating. The 2016 graduates are:
- Joseph Shea: Sedro-Woolley
- Joseph McConnaughy: Darrington
- Dawn Kadolph: Oak Harbor
- Raylene Levi: Stanwood
- Ryan Hayden: Arlington
- Rob Cogdal: Sedro-Woolley
- James Morgareidge: Concrete
- Heidi Nichols: Mount Vernon
- Jason Quigley: Mount Vernon
- Eva Swain: Sedro-Woolley
- Christie Turner: Sedro-Woolley