A Competitive Edge in the Environmental Job Market

Ryan Walker, CMC Leadville Natural Resource Management graduate and GIS Specialist.
Ryan Walker, CMC Leadville Natural Resource Management graduate and GIS Specialist.
Ryan Walker, CMC Leadville Natural Resource Management graduate and GIS Specialist.

Natural Resource Management: an affordable first-step towards an environmental career that will put you ahead

The environmental job market is strong and growing. Graduates of the Natural Resource Management program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville are finding their professional experience is what’s setting them apart from their peers in this competitive and dynamic industry.

Ryan Walker, a twenty-nine-year-old graduate of the NRM program, is a GIS Specialist in La Jara, CO. He works for a private environmental and archeological consulting firm on projects related to environmental and cultural resource compliance, ecological studies and of course – natural resource management.  Colorado Mountain College Leadville was the beginning of Ryan’s environmental education, and it lead him to discover and pursue a variety of opportunities.

“I was searching online for affordable 2-year environmental science programs to jump-start my career,” says Ryan, who is originally from Meredith, NH, “CMC’s Natural Resource Management program not only met those requirements, but the location couldn’t be beat.”

After graduating from Colorado Mountain College in 2014, Ryan transferred into the Environmental Biology and Ecology program at Western State Colorado University. Many of the foundational courses within the NRM curriculum fulfilled general education requirements at Western, allowing him to transfer as a junior and graduate with a B.S. in two years.

“Thanks to the hands-on nature of the NRM program,” reflects Ryan, “I transferred to Western with significantly more practical field experience compared to many of my peers.”

The NRM program’s curriculum is a well-designed mix of technical/applied courses and general college-level education, which provides students and graduates with the foundation to further their education. Some choose to transfer to four-year universities, while others finish their bachelor’s degree in Sustainability Studies or Business at Colorado Mountain College. The practical field-based knowledge that the NRM program provides gives CMC graduates a welcoming edge in the current job market.

CMC Natural Resource Management student field technicians monitoring fen wetlands for a summer internship.
The Natural Resource Management Field Institute provides relevant, paid internship opportunities for students, giving them a competitive edge in a dynamic job market.

“I took advantage of both the NRM Field Institute Summer Internship and 2-year work study position,” says Ryan, “which provided me with the professional experience that employers were looking for, making me a highly competitive candidate for subsequent jobs and internships.”

The NRM Field Institute summer internship is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain a broad range of professional experience working in the field with federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, and private industry. Students work closely with instructors and project partners, building professional connections through networking opportunities.

“Take full advantage of every experiential opportunity that the program affords,” says Ryan, “It’s those opportunities that make CMC NRM more than just an affordable first-step toward your career in the environmental and natural resource field—it will put you ahead of the curve.”

Ryan graduated Western State Colorado University with a B.S. in Ecology and a Masters in Environmental Management. He looks forward to continuing to apply his knowledge and technical skills to projects that protect natural and cultural heritage. Working in the environmental field has afforded him the opportunity to spend his life doing work he can feel good about – and he’s grateful that Colorado Mountain College Leadville helped him get there.

“I miss that feeling of constantly being on top of the world,” says Ryan, “Leadville is such an interesting place ecologically, geographically, and historically. The community is unique, welcoming, and non-pretentious. I can’t think of much about Leadville that I don’t miss.”