USA — For many years, Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities campus has provided educational opportunities that extend beyond the four walls of a brick and mortar building, and a new partnership between WIU-Quad Cities and the Eastern Iowa Community College District (EICCD) will give students interested in conservation and outdoor recreation the opportunity to take classes and earn a degree in three years at a Quad Cities conservation landmark.
WIU-QC and the EICCD announced a partnership agreement today (March 12) for the new EICCD/WIU-QC Natural Resources Management Track, which will begin in Fall 2010. The accelerated curriculum prepares students for careers in outdoor recreation and natural resources management. Students can complete the associate of science in conservation technology and the bachelor of science in recreation, park and tourism administration (RPTA), with a minor in environmental studies, in three years. Classes will be held at the WIU-QC 60th Street Campus and at the Nahant Marsh Education Center, a 62-acre nature preserve on the Mississippi River.
“We are excited to join in this new and innovative partnership with the Eastern Iowa Community College District. Once again, we are working closely with our local community colleges to provide an excellent academic program and a regionally innovative model that saves students valuable time and resources,” said Vice President for Quad Cities, Planning and Technology Joe Rives. “This latest program builds on our previous partnerships that provide cost savings to students who earn an associate degree and immediately transfer to Western or take take classes at a participating community college and Western simultaneously.”
Students enrolled in the degree program take such courses as RPTA 111 Introduction to Leisure Services, RPTA 376 Perspectives in Outdoor Recreation, Biology 137 Field Ecology and Biology 133 Ecology at the WIU-Quad Cities or EICCD campuses, and conservation courses like Fisheries Management and Wildlife Management at the Nahant Marsh Education Center. In addition to courses in the classroom, students can take advantage of a summer wilderness experience, and all students are required to complete a 12-week internship.
“Eastern Iowa Community College District is delighted to participate in this partnership program which will allow local students to graduate with a degree in natural resource management,” said EICCD Chancellor Pat Keir. “We are especially happy that students will engage in experiential learning at the wonderful Nahant Marsh where they will receive hands-on encounters with the subject matter in a natural setting. Partnering with Western to expand career opportunities for students in our region is a win-win effort for all.”
EICCD’s conservation technology program works closely with local environmental agencies to offer additional training opportunity for students, including wildland firefighter, water safety, wilderness first aid and more.
“Our students have a unique chance to learn at the Nahant Marsh, and this program provides our students a great opportunity to continue their education close to home,” added Brian Ritter, EICCD conservation instructor.
In addition, students graduating from the three-year bachelor’s degree program are immediately eligible to sit for the examination to become a certified park and recreation professional.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to offer in-demand, quality educational opportunities in environmental studies, especially sustainability issues from a cross-disciplinary perspective. We are pleased to continue collaboration with the College of Education and Human Services and the EICCD,” noted College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez.
Western’s RPTA department also offers travel workshops throughout the year which allow students to gain additional skills to prepare them for work in the field.
“The RPTA/EICCD program initiative represents an attractive career track for students wishing to combine their passion for stewardship of our natural environment along with facilitation of healthy outdoor recreation lifestyles,” noted College of Education and Human Services Dean Nick DiGrino. “The accelerated delivery model will serve as a template for future areas of baccalaureate study at the WIU-QC Campus.”