CMC Trustees Approve New Ecosystem Science and Stewardship Bachelor’s Degree

Ecosystem Science and Stewardship students and professor Monia Haselhorst collect tree core measurements in Leadville, co

Once approved by the Higher Learning Commission, the Ecosystem Science and Stewardship Bachelor’s program will begin enrolling students Fall 2022

Leadville, CO and the Central Colorado Rocky Mountains have been a hub for natural resources, ecosystem science, and related studies for many years. In Fall 2022, Colorado Mountain College Leadville, the highest altitude college campus in North America, has plans to expand their environmental degree offerings with a new Bachelor of Science in Ecosystems Science and Stewardship.

The new Ecosystem Science and Stewardship Bachelors Degree was approved by the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees. Once it is approved by the state and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the new program will bring the total number of bachelor’s degrees offered at CMC to six. The college also offers bachelor’s degrees in business administration, education, leadership and management, nursing and sustainability studies.

Ecosystem Education at Elevation

At 10,151 feet above sea level, Leadville and the surrounding wilderness areas provide an incredible backdrop to study unique high-altitude ecosystems. The curriculum will pay particular attention to the species, habitats and landscapes of the Southern Rocky Mountain Region of the US.

“The goal of the program is to equip students with the essential knowledge, skills, and practice to generate resilient solutions to the ecosystem stewardship challenges of our time,” says Dr. Monia Haselhorst, Department Chair of Ecosystem and Environmental Sciences at Colorado Mountain College.

Lake County, CO is home to four wilderness areas including, Mount Massive, Buffalo Peaks, Holy Cross and Collegiate Peaks. Students can explore these protected areas and surrounding landscapes to study the trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and human well-being in fast growing wildland urban interfaces.

Additionally, Leadville’s rich mining history will add an especially interesting element to the program. Students can examine the environmental impacts of mining activities and mitigation efforts through hands-on projects and case studies.

From Management to Stewardship

The Leadville campus currently offers an Associate of Science with emphasis in Ecosystem Science & Stewardship—formerly known as Ecosystem Science & Management. The name change reflects a shift from resource management, which attempts to manage a single resource or species while maintaining current systems and resisting change, to a focus on stewardship, which examines ecosystems as a whole, anticipates change and implies responsibility. 

The Associate of Science with emphasis in Ecosystem Science & Stewardship curriculum focuses on foundational course work with integrated real-world and experiential learning. The ESS emphasis is typically completed in 2 years, and designed to transfer with a junior standing to a bachelor’s program at either CMC or another 4-year college or university. A bachelor’s degree will create new opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience and professional connections without needing to transfer to continue their education.

“This degree will lead to careers in conservation biology, forestry, environmental science and more,” said CMC Associate Professor Dr. Nathan Stewart. “There are many public and private sector employers in our mountain communities that are hiring for these high paying jobs and we’re excited to offer this degree to our students.”