Natural Resource Management turns out law school students, legal professionals

August 7, 2012 under CANR News

Renee Connor had wanted to be a lawyer since high school and thanks to the University of Delaware’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) program, she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Connor has been accepted into the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law.

Connor, who graduated from UD in 2012 with a double major in NRM and political science, said that after figuring out that she wanted to pursue a career in law, she had to decide which branch of law she wanted to study. “When I looked into environmental law, that seemed like something I’d be really interested in,” she said, adding that it made sense to major in NRM to pursue a career in that field.

The NRM program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped Connor in many ways but she said that perhaps the most significant benefit was providing her with enriching and diverse coursework. “I took a lot of classes in different areas,” said Connor. “I took economics classes, science classes and policy classes, and I feel like it was a good major to prepare me for law school because you have to understand a wide range of topics to do environmental law.”

Steve Hastings, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and at the Agricultural Experiment Center, said of Connor’s acceptance into law school, “Renee was a very focused student who knew she wanted to be an attorney — she worked hard to achieve that goal.”

Hastings echoed Connor’s sentiments about the plethora of educational opportunities afforded to those who choose to major in NRM.

“NRM is an excellent interdisciplinary major that exposes students to both physical and social sciences,” said Hastings. “It is this mix that makes it a great preparation for law school or graduate school in a variety of areas. In fact, which area to pursue is the hardest decision the students have to make.”

Connor joins a number of NRM graduates who have gone on to law school and become lawyers. Among them is Kristen DeWire, a 2004 UD graduate who works as an assistant attorney general in the office of the attorney general in Maryland. Specifically, her role is to represent the Maryland Department of the Environment.

DeWire said that she decided to study NRM at UD because of her love of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She also said that she thought she would be more successful in the policy side of environmental issues instead of “focusing on environmental science or environmental engineering.”

She also enjoyed the fact that the NRM major would give her a diverse group of classes from which to choose. “Being able to do analysis and analytical writing through communications, economics and environmental law classes, and from internship experiences, was really helpful in terms of being able to think critically and analytically about applying theories to particular sets of facts, which is a lot of what legal practice is.”

DeWire added that the science classes she took, from soil science to geology, provided her a head start when it comes to examining legal cases in those areas and the work has proven beneficial when talking with experts and preparing for cases.

DeWire also said that the small classes sizes, the excellent faculty and the “family environment” of CANR added a lot to her undergraduate experience.

Internship opportunities

One thing that Connor and DeWire have in common is that they both took advantage of an internship opportunity while they were undergraduates in the NRM program.

Connor worked at UD’s Garden for the Community, an internship she said she really enjoyed because it gave her a hands-on experience working outdoors.

DeWire had two internships during her time at UD, both sponsored by CANR’s Delaware Water Resources Center. The first involved working on a paper focusing on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the federal jurisdiction over wetlands in Delaware, and the second involved her working at the Water Resources Agency (WRA) surveying a stream running through UD’s campus and making recommendations for restoration.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.




CANR student helps WRA try to improve shad population in White Clay Creek

October 5, 2011 under CANR News

While some students spent their summer vacations taking a break from college course work, Chelsea Halley was immersed in an eight-week study aimed at improving the shad population in White Clay Creek.

The internship was funded by the Delaware Water Resources Center, within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), and Halley, a senior in the college, was part of a research team that surveyed seven dams along White Clay Creek that restrict fish passage.

The shad restoration project is being overseen by the University’s Water Resources Agency, a program unit of the Institute for Public Administration.

Halley explained that some of the dams were built in the 1700s and that they once served a purpose, such as diverting water to mills, but have long since been rendered unnecessary.

Because of this, a five-year plan was created in order to remove all seven dams from White Clay Creek, with the first dam being removed in November. Halley explained that removing the dams is vital to restore the shad populations because “shad must swim upstream to spawn, but are restricted because of the dams. American shad and hickory shad were once a thriving fish in the White Clay Creek, but their population has diminished significantly. Downstream from the dams, some shad have been detected, but upstream none have been found.”

Unlike salmon, which are able to leap over the dams, shad can’t make it over the structures and Halley explained, “It is imperative to their survival that we remove the dams.”

Halley estimated that she worked between 20-25 hours per week and she measured the dams using diverse tools ranging from a large measuring stick to an electronic level. She even used a kayak and measuring tape to figure out the depth at 10-foot intervals along each dam’s cross section. Said Halley, “We surveyed 100-foot cross sections of the creek 1,000 feet downstream and 1,000 feet upstream of each dam.”

Halley then would input the results into a computer model and diagram each cross section that was measured.

After discovering the internship through the UD website, Halley contacted Gerald J. Kaufman, director of the Water Resources Agency, and was drawn to the shad restoration project because it involved a lot of hands-on field work, which she said has been the most beneficial aspect of her internship.

Kauffman became Halley’s adviser for the research project, which began in June and runs through the spring of 2012. Halley now works at the Water Resources Agency office for about 10 hours a week as she continues to work on the shad restoration project and other WRA projects.

After the first dam is removed in November, Halley explained that they will start comparing the new data about “the water quality and shape of the creek to the data that my research team and I collected over the summer.”

Halley said that she is proud that her internship allowed her to be a part of Delaware’s history, explaining that shad were once very plentiful and of great economic importance in the First State. “It is a great feeling knowing that the work we did is being used to benefit the environment in such a monumental project. This will be the first time in hundreds of years that shad will really have a shot at multiplying and succeeding.”

For now, Halley is relishing the opportunity to put to use all of the techniques that she learned over the summer in the field of water resources and to continue her education in the field.

Other students involved in the project include: Sarah Ackerman, a CANR senior; Seth Olson, an environmental studies student in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment; Katherine Adami, a senior environmental studies major with a concentration in environmental law, policy and politics; Kayla Iuliano, a junior Honors Program student majoring in environmental science; Ian Kaliakin, a sophomore environmental science major; and Erica Addonizio, a sophomore chemical engineering major.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily > >


Water Resources Center internship program marks 10th, invites applications

February 19, 2010 under CANR News

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Delaware Water Resources Center (DWRC) internship program.

Established in 2000, the DWRC internship program has provided more than 100 University of Delaware and Delaware State University students with the chance to conduct projects on water-related topics under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

With project topics ranging from policy to core issues of stream sampling to metal levels in broiler litter, the DWRC internship program offers students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty members in their academic field, and become directly involved in research and education projects addressing water resource related issues of critical importance to Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region.

During this experience, interns pick a topic of interest, conduct an ongoing research or education project, analyze and interpret data, and present a final report at the annual UD Undergraduate Research Conference. This “hands-on” internship provides select students with the opportunity to address water quality issues and apply their classroom knowledge to real-world problems. Additionally, interns are able to learn more about graduate school opportunities, future research projects and careers in water science, policy and management.

Jennifer Campagnini Walls, principal planner for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), was one of the first DWRC interns in 2000. She graduated from UD in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management.

As a DWRC intern, Walls was advised by Gerald Kauffman, professor of watershed policy and director of UD’s Water Resources Agency, where she worked on a project entitled “The University of Delaware Experimental Watershed Project.” UD’s experimental watershed serves as a living laboratory for research and education in the University community, containing many popular landmarks such as the UD farm, Clayton Hall, Deer Park, and the Blue and Gold Club. This watershed area includes several small tributaries to the White Clay Creek.

During her internship, Walls was responsible for the planning and assessment of the first experimental watershed on UD’s main campus in Newark. Walls did the majority of her work out in the field testing water quality and aided in the preparation of a watershed “report card” that evaluated the relationship between land use and watershed health.

“As a DWRC intern, I gained a ton of experience that has helped me get to where I am today. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present my research from this project at two national conferences, giving me a very competitive edge. This internship program taught me a lot about watershed planning and management, knowledge that I continue to use every day,” Walls said.

One of the current DWRC interns, Nicole Dobbs, is a senior environmental engineering major with a concentration in water quality and water resources with minors in civil engineering and economics. Her project, “Monitoring Cool Run Watershed for the UD Middle South Campus,” is advised by Anastasia Chirnside, assistant professor of bioresources engineering. Dobbs is responsible for evaluating land uses on campus, approximating pollutant loads, and looking at storm water management practices. This is all part of an effort to come up with an overall recommendation for healthy, sustainable watershed management practices on campus.

The DWRC is currently accepting applications for the 2010-2011 class of undergraduate interns. Each undergraduate intern receives $3500 in financial support from the DWRC. Students typically work ten weeks full-time during the summer and additional hours during the fall and winter. Academic credit for internships is also possible but must be coordinated with the student’s faculty advisor.

The application deadline for 2010 DWRC internships is March 26. For details on past projects, current faculty advisors, application materials to submit, and requirements for reports and posters, visit the DWRC Web site. Students are encouraged to contact Maria Pautler via email at [] or telephone at (302) 831-0847 to express interest and to receive assistance identifying a project and adviser.

The DWRC was established in 1965 and serves as one of 54 Water Resources Institutes across the nation. Support for these institutes is received from the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners within each individual state.

Read this article online at UDaily.