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News article: Bard offers job security
Environmental program allows students to finish degrees away from school
When a graduate school internship in California turned into a pre-graduation job opening last year, Kendall Lambert jumped at the opportunity.
Lucky for her, the school she attended, the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in Annandale, had just introduced a pilot program, the non-residence master’s project. The program allows graduate students that are hired as an employee through an internship position to complete their degree remotely, so that they don’t have to leave their job in their chosen field to finish school.
“I knew that I had an opportunity to make my internship into a job,” said Lambert, who is from Vermont. “I approached Eban (Goodstein, director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy ) and asked if I could stay out in California and apply for these grants and make that a career. He said, ‘Sure.’ ”
Goodstein said that graduate students participating in internships as part of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s second-year fall requirement historically had to return to campus afterward to write their master’s thesis and complete their degrees. But with the school working to secure leadership positions for its students, the non-residence master’s project made it possible for those fortunate enough to have jobs in the environmental field prior to graduation to complete their degree while working without interruption, save one week in January and another in March when the students work with their advisers at school. With that, the students also attend weekly classes through Skype, allowing everyone to share in classroom and job-related discussions, whether the students are working locally or in more distant places, such as Oregon, Alaska or Ghana.
“We’re motivated by the understanding that our students are coming of age at an extraordinary moment in history,” Goodstein said. “The work they’re going to do will have an extraordinary impact on their lives and … others.”
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor reported employment associated with the production of Green Goods and Services increased by 0.1 percentage point to 2.6 percent for a total of 3,401,279 jobs, with most in businesses that primarily produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
So successful was the launch of Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s non-residence master’s project pilot program last year that 11 out of 27 of this year’s graduate students are participating in it.
“We help students think about what it really means to be alive at the beginning of the 21st century and not to stick their heads in the sand, (but) embrace these challenges,” Goodstein said.
And that’s important, given the alarming rate at which the planet’s climate is rising and natural resources are being consumed.
“If you want to change the world, you have to know how it works,” said Goodstein, with the school’s non-residence master’s project providing both experience and opportunity.
Before becoming a Bard Center for Environmental Policy student, Megan McClellan of Kingston earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and spent time in West Africa with the Peace Corps with the aim of helping protect the world’s natural resources. She decided to increase her education, and after completing her first year at Bard Center for Environmental Policy, she secured an intern position with the Woodstock Land Conservancy last spring, where she did communications work for the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, a rails-to-trails initiative.
“There were a lot of good mentors, and it was good,” said McClellan of the experience. “I used a lot of the skills I learned my first year at Bard.”
The position converted to a job, but because it was local and involved fewer hours than the weekly requirement, she didn’t qualify for the school’s non-residence master’s project, but continued her studies on campus. While the job ended in January, through it McClellan landed another part-time position that she still holds with Rondout Consulting in Kingston, where she does communications work for the Kingston Land Trust’s Kingston Greenline, a developing network of trails, bikeways and more.
“I wouldn’t have met Tim (Weidmann, owner of Rondout Consulting), I wouldn’t have known what was going on in Kingston,” said McClellan, if not for her internship.
After graduating this spring, McClellan plans on moving back to Ohio where her husband’s family is based. She hopes to get communities involved in land management by working with a land trust, land conservancy or in parks management. Later, she’d like to go back to West Africa.
“I want to go back to land management in developing countries and help manage their parks and protected areas,” she said, having witnesses the positive effects of such work on local animals, people and tourism through her work with the Peace Corps. “My long-term goal is to work with developing countries in the management of their protected areas.”
As for Lambert, she has completed her master of science in environmental policy in the spring of 2013 and got a job with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers nonprofit in Oakland, Calif. Her full-time position centers on water-use efficiency, specifically, dry-farming associated with growing wine grapes.
“Being a part of not only helping farmers but also protecting the environment and producing food for the nation is incredible,” she said. “I feel really fortunate that it all just came together. I moved out to California from the east for an internship, found grants (to support the work) and now have a job doing exactly what I to do. It’s incredible.”
This event was last updated on 03-12-2014