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NRES Online M.S. Blog

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  • Illinois Science Teachers - Elementary Science Summit

    We are pleased to share this information from the Illinois Science Teachers' Associaton with our NRES graduate students:


    NIU is hosting an Elementary Science Summit, a partnership between the Illinois Science Teachers Association and NIU Center for Secondary Science and Mathematics Edcuation. 


    What: Elementary Science Summit which will have sessions on STEM Read, STEAMing it up, Creative Technology, Integrating Math and Science, Storyline Implementation and much much more.  Free parking, Door prizes and lunch will be provided.


    When: February 18, 2017

    Where: Montgomer Hall, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL

    Cost: $35.00



  • Spring Semester Reminders

    Here are some reminders from the Graduate College and your NRES Department:



    Please make sure to register correctly at the beginning of the semester to avoid problems with registration and unwanted tuition charges later. Students are responsible for their own registration and for ensuring the accuracy of their schedules. Please refer to the Graduate College Handbook for details about requirements. If you have questions about requirements, please contact your department office.


    January 13 – Last business day for Graduate students to cancel Spring registration

    January 16 – Martin Luther king Day (all-campus holiday)

    January 17 – Instruction begins

    January 30 – Last day for Graduate students to add a semester course via Student Self-Service



    Students may be released from their obligation to pay ALL tuition and fees by canceling their spring registration by January 16, 2017. You may cancel your registration through Student-Self Service or by submitting a Withdrawal/Cancellation form to your department office. Completed Withdrawal/Cancellation forms must be received in the Graduate College by 5 p.m. January 13, 2017, the last business day before instruction begins.


    Schedule of Spring Courses

    You can preview the schedule of spring courses by going to:  Please make sure you have registered in time to acquire any required texts.


    2017 Annual Review

    The 2017 Annual Review will be distributed February 1st. All students are required to comply with the request for information, whether you are actively taking classes or not. Please let us know if you do not receive the informational letter and guidelines on that date. The completed forms will be due back no later than February 17th.


    Spring Break

    March 18 – 26 – Spring Break


    Planning to Graduate in May

    April 2 – Last day to add your name to the pending degree list

    April 7 – Last day for oral presentations (defense) of your capstone project.

    April 28 – Last day to deposit your fully approved final paper with the NRES department (This includes post-defense revisions, format check, and Department Head review/approval).

    May 13 – UIUC Commencement

    May 14 – Departmental Ceremony and Tassel Turn


    We hope you have an outstanding semester.


    For additional information on any of the above items, please contact Renée Gracon (

  • New Spring Course: NRES 499 XM3 - IL Env. Policy and Advocacy

    We are very pleased to announce that a course has been added to the Spring 2017 line-up. NRES 499 XM3: Illinois Environmental Policy and Advocacy (3 credit hours) will be taught on Tuesday evenings, 6:30 – 9:00 pm, by Jennifer Walling. This course will meet the requirement for Core 4 – Human Dimensions of the Environment, Stewardship and Management.


    Here is what the instructor has to say about this course, “In this course, students will study environmental policy in real time, providing feedback and research on statutes, policies, and other regulatory proceedings that happen during the course.  While we will study some theory of environmental policy, this course will also cover more “real life” practical policy scenarios.  During the course, students will study bills and issues that are currently under consideration in the governmental body of their choice, but with a heavy focus on learning the dynamics of the Illinois state legislature.  Students will not only analyze what elements are needed to pass policy sufficiently protective of the environment, but will also learn skills such as organizing, negotiation, and power analysis to understand the possibility of enacting the best environmental policies into law.  After all, the most academically researched, ideal environmental policy has no impact if it will not be enacted by decision makers.   This will be an excellent course for students in environmental science to learn more about how to discuss the results of their research in a way that is easy for the public to understand, without losing academic integrity and understand the role that scientists can have as experts testifying on environmental policy.”


    For further information, please contact Renee Gracon at

  • Spring Course Offerings Webinar - Weds. 7:00 pm Central

    Don't forget we have a special webinar scheduled for 7:00 pm Weds, Nov. 30th, to provide you with additional information about the upcoming spring courses. You can join Piper and me in the virtual office by going to:


    We hope you will attend.

    Renee Gracon

  • Spring Courses Webinar - Nov. 30

    As you prepare to wrap up the fall semester and plan ahead for Spring 2017, don't forget the Spring Courses Webinar on Nov. 30th at 7:00 pm Central. You can join Piper and me for a discussion of our Spring course offerings by going to:


    We hope you will join us!


    Happy Thanksgiving!


  • News from an NRES Graduate on Protecting the Chicago River

    Josh Yellin is a Chicago native, NRES grad, and an entrepreneur who is passionate about rivers -- especially urban rivers. He recently co-founded a non-profit called Urban Rivers ( We are excited to briefly share his story on the important work being done by Urban Rivers in the Chicagoland area.


    “I have been connected to rivers all my life, growing up near the DuPage River. I later lived and worked alongside rivers in Montana and Alaska. In 2010, I returned to Chicago and kayaked on the Chicago River. The river, once teaming with fish and serving as a critical habitat for wildlife, disturbed me. I saw signs of life, but it certainly wasn't flourishing.


    The Chicago River, like many urban rivers, was engineered to be functional as a heavy trade and transportation route. The river was lined with steel seawalls that prevent the growth of most emergent vegetation. A variety of plants currently sprouting out of the cracks in the steel and concrete alongside the river, as well as modest groups of geese and ducks all tightly packed on small docks and pilings, are a reminder of the wildlife that once abundantly inhabited this region.


    For my Master’s research, I conducted a pilot study in the Chicago River by constructing an artificial floating island and evaluating its efficacy as fish habitat. The results of this study were encouraging, as fish were found beneath the artificial floating island significantly more often than nearby sampling areas (an uncovered part of the river and a nearby dock). With my results in-hand and a year of floating island experience under my belt, I wanted to upscale my project and do more to make a positive impact on the Chicago River and its wildlife.


    I was lucky enough to find a few other like-minded individuals, and the four of us co-founded Urban Rivers in 2014. Over the past two years, we have worked diligently to obtain all necessary permits, align partners, draft designs, apply for grants and raise funds to install a 600 linear foot artificial floating riverbank in the Chicago River by May 2017.  In addition, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) has made a generous in-kind donation to conduct professional fish surveys (via electroshocking) four times per year for four years, both before and after we make our installation, which will give us critical pre- and post- installation data. Our grand vision is to build a one-mile long urban wildlife sanctuary in the Chicago River on the east side of Goose Island by 2020. We hope our project will serve as a pilot and inspiration to other cities who wish to improve wildlife habitat on those waterways as well. We need your help spreading the word about our efforts. If you’re interested in getting involved with Urban Rivers, our research, our outreach, or floating island installation, please reach out to me at”

  • Fall Reminders - Course Registration/ Written Exam/ Extending "Inc" Grades

    Capstone Enrollment: If you have an approved capstone project proposal and are planning to enroll in NRES 503, NRES 505 or 507 for the Spring semester, you must add your name to the course request list at: 


    Written Final Exam: Students who have completed the core requirements by the end of the fall semester and who wish to take the Written Final Exam in January 2017 should add their names to the Distribution List by going to: Be sure to include the core courses that you have taken, a phone number,  and an email address where you can be reached during the semester break. The exam will be distributed on January 6th and due back no later than January 13th.  The next opportunity to take the exam is August 2017.


    Spring Course Webinar: We encourage you to register for spring classes before going on Winter Holiday. This will ensure you time to prepare for classes and to acquire required textbooks. Join us on Nov. 30th, at 7:00 pm CST, for a webinar on Spring course offerings.


    To view the list of courses that will be offered this spring, go to the Future Course Offerings page at:


    Extending an Incomplete ("I") Grade: Do you have a temporary extension or an "Incomplete" from Spring 2016? December 7th is the last day for a faculty member to submit a grade to change an “I” grade or “DFR” grade in a non-thesis course from Spring 2016 to prevent an "F" by rule on your academic record. The "F" may affect Academic Standing which is calculated at the end of the semester.

  • Nov. 15th is National GIS day!

    November 15th is National GIS day. For more information about how the University of Illinois and the Illinois GISA are celebrating geospatial technology and its potential check out:


  • Spring Course Selection Webinar

    Many of you are already planning your course enrollment for Spring 2017. To help provide you with information about the upcoming courses, please join us for this webinar.

    Webinar Title: Spring 2017 Course Offerings

    When: Wednesday, Nov. 30th

    Time: 7:00 pm Central.

    You can attend the presentation in the Virtual Office by going to:


    The link to the tentative course offerings page is:


    For further questions, please contact Renée Gracon at

  • Requesting Capstone Enrollment for Spring 2017

    Students wishing to enroll in capstone credit for spring 2017 should add their name to the enrollment request list at: . Once your enrollment has been authorized and a course section is prepared, you will be notified by the Registrar’s Office so that you may then register for your capstone credit.


    Remember, you are eligible to enroll only if you have a fully approved capstone proposal (either Independent Research Project or Graduate Internship Approval Form) on file in the NRES office. Students requesting enrollment in NRES 507 do not need to submit a proposal as their Research Director has already completed this step. Please be sure to include the semester (spring) for which you want to enroll, the capstone course number (NRES 501, NRES 503, NRES 505, or NRES 507), and the number of credit hours you plan to take.


    For further information, please contact Renée Gracon at