What is Natural Resources?
Interested in working to conserve our natural resources and help keep people connected with nature? This STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major blends science, economics, policy, technology and management techniques to prepare students to conserve our natural systems and green infrastructure in the face of a growing population and limited resources. Through hands-on learning and teamwork, students develop critical skills, such as communication, collaboration and problem solving, all of which are needed to effectively address the challenges that arise when integrating people and nature.
Students majoring in Natural Resources share a passion for our environment and understanding the impacts of human behavior.
Students interested in the environment, who prefer a broad background, find this program gives them the choice to concentrate their study in a variety of areas. Accredited by the Society of American Foresters, our Natural Resources major is customizable with 21 elective credits. Students can choose electives to provide a breadth of knowledge or they can develop a specialization of their choice.
Sample electives include U.S. Environmental Law and Politics, Urban Wildlife Management, Forest Health and Protection, and Watershed and Wetland Hydrology. As part of their coursework, students also partner with local agencies, such as the Triangle Land Conservancy, City of Raleigh, and Wake County Public Spaces, to assess and analyze the impacts of urbanization on natural resources in one of America’s fastest growing regions.
As part of their required internship and professional development classes, we encourage our students to network with alumni working in industry, government and non-profit organizations to learn first-hand about their experiences.
- Ecosystem Assessment focuses on evaluating, analyzing and caring for resources in both rural and urban ecosystems, with an emphasis on land management practices.
- Policy and Administration focuses on developing policies that protect both land and water through a science-based approach. With a strong background in economics, policy, government and public administration, students also learn to oversee natural resource programs in both public and private organizations.
Natural Resources Curriculum
All Natural Resources students complete an internship.
Past internships include assisting with turtle conservation, researching resilient crop methods with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and studying the usability of climate information as part of a National Science Foundation grant.
Why are Natural Resources graduates important?
Our alumni help ensure the viability of the the world economy, which uses 60 billion tons of natural resources each year, to provide the goods and services we all consume, such as food, transportation, housing and infrastructure.
Our graduates go on to influence policy and administration that keeps the negative long-term impacts to land, water, air quality, global climate change and extinction of species as a result of man-made disruptions to a minimum.
Our graduates are working to improve and maintain the important ecosystems on which humans are highly dependent for food, drinkable water, living space, recreation and overall health and well-being.
Hands-On Experiences in Natural Resources
Natural Resources major Emery Kiefer helps write climate change policies in Washington, D.C. as part of her summer internship.
Many students choose to boost their resume by participating in undergraduate research with faculty or as part of an internship.
What can you do with a Natural Resources degree?
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Learn more about the College of Natural Resources
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From pursuing careers with private industry or the government to continuing their research at the graduate and Ph.D. level, our Natural Resources majors graduate with options. With continued population growth, environmental degradation, the rapid development of sustainable technologies and the constant reconsideration of environmental policies, careers in this field will continue to be critical.
Sample Natural Resources Careers
- Environmental Impact Assessor – Evaluating the environmental, social and economic impacts of proposed projects and developments by industry, government or private entities. Recent employers include Duke Energy.
- Natural Resources Administrator – Develop, support and implement programs to protect, manage and conserve wildlife and natural resources, such as forests, grasslands, soil and water. Recent employers include The Nature Conservancy.
- Restoration Ecologist – Develop and support environmental rehabilitation projects to restore damaged ecosystems. Recent employers include the NC Division of Water Resources.
- Natural Resources Educator – Provide local and state-wide education, training and technical support for environmental and natural resource issues. Recent employers include the U.S. Forest Service.
- Environmental Regulations or Enforcement Officer – Enforce federal and state laws and regulations to protect natural resources, wetlands, waterways and recreational facilities. Recent employers include Tomer Engineering.
- Environmental Project Manager – Oversee interactions with environmental regulatory agencies, perform site investigations, evaluate data and monitor project progress. Recent employers include the Institute for Forest Biotechnology.
- Director of Social Change – Develop and implement initiatives to promote stewardship and protect forest heritage. Recent employers include the American Forest Foundation.
- Program Director – Develop and support programs to educate others about the role of clean water and to take an active role in community decision making. Recent employers include the Miami Waterkeepers.
- Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability Coordinator – Promote coordination with other organizations to manage, sustain and enhance natural, economic, human and national defense resources. Recent employers include the T&M Natural Resources Institute.
Natural Resources Graduate Programs
Many Natural Resources students use their degree as a foundation for a graduate education. Recent graduates have pursued graduate programs in environmental law, forestry, soil science and environmental education. Students often choose to continue their research and education by pursuing graduate degrees through programs in the College of Natural Resources or at other universities such as Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, Purdue University and Penn State.
Natural Resources Jobs
Learn about our scholarships
We offer merit and need-based scholarships to help you earn your degree.