Environmental Steward Certificate Program Starts New Round

Ed Joyce (right) and Jesse Jones (center) at a training session for the marine debris survey, a project which would help participants qualify for the Environmental Steward Certificate.\Photo by Patricia Jensen.

Oregon Shores and CoastWatch partners with Clatsop Community College (CCC) in sponsoring the Environmental Steward Certificate program, an innovative program which melds volunteerism with preparation for careers in conservation.  Participants in the program combine classes in relevant subjects at CCC with experience in CoastWatch citizen science projects.

The program, which began during the past academic year, has now awarded its first certificate, to CoastWatcher Angela Whitlock, who also received a $500 scholarship from the program, which she will use to take additional classes at CCC.  Immediately after gaining the certificate, Whitlock found employment as a rocky shore interpreter with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach.  "The Environmental Steward Certificate program has set me on a path that I'm thrilled to be on!" she says.

The program is open to new participants.  This would be a good time to start in pursuit of the certificate, so as to enroll in fall classes at the college and get started this summer with CoastWatch citizen science projects on the shore.  CCC's term begins Sept. 28, and classes in Geology and General Biology, both of which qualify for the certificate program, are available.

The program has two key goals.  One is to serve current CoastWatchers by offering an opportunity to boost their shoreline monitoring skills while deepening their knowledge of shoreline science through classes and mentoring from environmental scientists at the college level.   The other is to enrich the experience of students at the college, who may become future conservation leaders and future CoastWatchers, by giving them a chance to explore the possibilities of a career in conservation.  Both CoastWatchers and students will receive an Oregon Shores Environmental Steward Certificate.  This will go on college transcripts and boost the employability of graduates.

The longer-term goal is to extend this program to colleges throughout the coastal region so as to make it available to all CoastWatchers and prospective CoastWatchers.

Oregon Shores and CCC will award the certificate to those completing 12 credit hours of environmentally focused classes, and completing 30 hours of participation in CoastWatch monitoring and citizen science projects, or other volunteer work with Oregon Shores.  The requirements could easily be met within a single academic year, although there is no time limit on completing the steps toward receiving the certificate.

For the technically inclined, classes appropriate for the certificate include some combination of Environmental Science, General and Marine Biology, Geology, Oceanography, and Marine Technology.  For those more interested in environmental administration, classes in Technical Writing and State & Local Government are recommended.

Successful completion of the program will better prepare the graduate to analyze and understand coastal ecosystems, prepare for environmental change, and participate in environmental management.  Participants will gain first-hand experience addressing real-world environmental issues and learning citizen science techniques while volunteering with CoastWatch and Oregon Shores.  CoastWatchers will gain skills and background knowledge that will contribute to more effective shoreline monitoring and improved citizen science results, and gain recognition of their efforts by receiving the certificate.  CCC students will better prepare themselves for careers in conservation and resource management—and, it is hoped, become active CoastWatchers.

The Environmental Steward Certificate program will help prepare students for careers in environmental protection and resource management.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for environmental scientists is good.  Experience gained will enhance job search efforts within the environmental community and provide a good beginning for those pursuing environmental studies at a four-year institution. 

CoastWatchers are urged to participate to elevate observation skills and thus the quality of CoastWatch reports and citizen science data gathering.

The program will award $500 scholarships to selected participants.  Oregon Shores members and others are invited to sponsor students with contributions of $750 (covering a scholarship and associated program costs).  The hope is to have scholarships available for the start of the fall term at CCC.

For additional information contact Ed Joyce, an Oregon Shores board member who is also adjunct faculty (in geology and oceanography) at CCC:  (503) 468-0995, edjoyce1@verizon.net.