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NRES Online M.S. Blog

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  • NRES Spirit and Testimonials - We need you to get involved!

    At a Town Hall meeting earlier this year, the UIUC community was encouraged “to look carefully and think strategically about ways in which we tell our stories of success and impact”.

    We can't do this alone. We need your help! Therefore, we have added a new category to this year’s Photo Contest. Please use this outstanding opportunity to tell others of your NRES experience. Wearing or displaying your favorite Illini or NRES logos, create a short testimonial or promotional video via YouTube to show your commitment to and support of the University and, in particular, to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Videos may include moving video, still images presented in a slideshow format, animation or any combination thereof. This category is open to current and former NRES students. No minimum length! Maximum length 2 minutes.

    For contest rules, go to:

    The deadline for entries has been extended to September 10th!

    Get those selfies and videos to us soon! Help us get the message to others about the great opportunities in online education through the Department of NRES.

    For further information, contact Renee at


  • Photo Contest for Online Students - deadline extended!

    NRES invites you to enter the 2015 Photo Contest by capturing your favorite NRES moment, most notable assignment, or unique location in digital or printed form. You could win prizes!

    Category I       -  Students in Action (Photography)

    Category II      -  Natural Resources (Nature Photography)

    Category III     -  UIUC/NRES Spirit (Video)

    For contest information and rules, go to:

    But please hurry. The contest closes Sept 10th at 8:00am. The winners will be announced at the Sept. 12, NRES On-Campus Event.


    The photo portion of the contest is open to current NRES ONLINE STUDENTS only. This restriction increases your chance of Winning!

    The Video portion is open to CURRENT STUDENTS AND ALUMNI. Please help us promote NRES!

    For additional information, please contact Renee Gracon at

  • Restoration Project Manager - Job Opportunity

    We are happy to pass along this job opportunity, brought to our attention by NRES alumnus Brenda Occhiuzzo. 

    The Forest Preserves of Cook County, the country’s oldest and largest forest preserve, is seeking to fill the position of Resource Operations Manager for the Department of Resource Management. The Department of Resource Management’s primary function is to execute the mission of the Preserves: "…to preserve, protect, restore and restock natural areas throughout the County." The Department is comprised of several sections, including Wildlife, Fisheries, Ecology, Resource Management Crews and Project Management.

    The Resource Operations Manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Resource Management field crews across our holdings. The five (5) Resource Management crews manage the removal of woody and herbaceous vegetation in response to hazardous tree situations and public work requests. Additionally, they are responsible for inspecting and maintaining over 340 miles of trail, performing a variety of surface repair and drainage work that may impact trail usage. They also utilize a number of ecological management techniques to restore the Preserves’ significant habitats, including herbicide application and prescribed fire.

    The Preserves are seeking a highly motivated individual to help lead the Resource Crews in their daily operations. The Resource Operations Manager position will require the ability to effectively oversee the coordination and execution of large-scale land management, vegetation removal, and trail maintenance projects while fostering positive relationships with staff, volunteers, contractors, the public, and other governmental agencies. The Resource Operations Manager will play a key role in the Department and the District overall, ensuring effective use of the District’s resources to promote responsible land management, and ensure the safety of the public. Primary responsibilities of the Resource Operations Manager will include prioritizing and scheduling the daily activities of the five (5) Resource Management crews, supervising upkeep of crew equipment and facilities, and managing crew-led prescribed fire, wildfire suppression, vegetation control, and ecological restoration activities.

    The Resource Operations Manager will collaborate with other Forest Preserve staff on matters affecting the Department, drawing on experience in forestry, restoration, and natural resource management. Superior communication and administrative skills are a must, as well as the ability to navigate governmental processes and procedures. The position will have no shortage of challenges, and will require the ability to effectively supervise a large number of staff whilst simultaneously managing multiple projects.

    Candidates should demonstrate comprehension of the unique challenges and pressures presented by the urban-wildland interface within Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States.

    Salary: $71,602 starting, with annual step increases over the next 5 years the position can be expected to make $86,270 by year five. Additionally, a take home vehicle is provided as after-hours response may be necessary across the county.

    Work Location: There is flexibility to work at any of six (6) Resource Management facilities throughout the County.

    To apply, please use our online web portal:


  • NRES 500 - Graduate Seminar Series

    Hello NRES online MS students! We have a great NRES seminar series planned for Fall 2015, and we are thrilled to be able to offer it to our on-line MS students!  We have invited a lot of dynamic speakers to present their research on a terrific mix of topics. I think everyone will learn a lot!  

    Seminar schedule The seminar schedule for fall is available on-line: The on-line seminar schedule also includes a link to each speaker's website. I would encourage you to visit the websites to learn a bit about each speaker, and perhaps read some of the speaker's recent publications.   

    Viewing the seminars We will post a link to a video of each seminar on Compass. The first seminar will be posted next week. Videos will be posted approximately weekly, but delays will sometimes be inevitable as time is required for the AV personnel to process and post the seminars online. I’ll do my best to finish up the semester early for you!  

    Requirements for NRES 500 credit Students who are enrolled in NRES 500 XM for credit are required to view the video of the seminar each week, and to fill out a brief questionnaire online about each seminar. The questionnaires can be found at the NRES 500 link in Compass: and should be submitted through links within Compass. 

    This is an asynchronous course, meaning you can view the seminar videos at your own pace, but questionnaires should be completed within 2 weeks after we post the link to the seminar. Due dates will be announced for each seminar questionnaire.Submission of all questionnaires is required to receive credit. 

    Please let us know immediately if you have any questions or problems with viewing the seminar videos or submitting questionnaires through Compass.    

    Registration information If you are not already registered for the course, here's what you need to know: NRES 500, Section XM 1 credit, grading is S/U CRN: 32902 Students may enroll each semester. A max of 2 credits from NRES 500 may count toward your degree. Have a great semester!

    Professor Angela Kent, PhD Associate Professor of Microbial Ecology Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences 

    Director, Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Clean Water Fellowship - Izaak Walton League

    The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois is pleased to provide this information as a public service, but doing so is not an endorsement of the position and will, in no way, influence the selection to the position announced.

    Fellowship Announcement: Clean Water Fellow

    Izaak Walton League of America, Inc.

    Gaithersburg, MD

    Application deadline: September 20, 2015


    The Clean Water Fellowship is a temporary position of up to two years and is designed to provide applied experience in environmental education to a candidate with an undergraduate degree who is planning to pursue graduate studies in environmental education, natural resources conservation or a similar field. The Clean Water Fellow will work with the Clean Water Program Director to deliver and manage the Creek Freaks program. Creek Freaks is a national program that engages children ages 10-14 in hands-on stream studies including water quality monitoring. The Clean Water Fellow will conduct Creek Freaks environmental education programming for children and train and support adult Creek Freaks program leaders. In addition, the Clean Water Fellow will create videos, fact sheets, and website content and will promote the program using social media. The Clean Water Fellow also will recruit, train, and coordinate networks of adult volunteer water quality monitors.The Clean Water Fellow will receive a monthly stipend of $2,650.00 and the League will cover costs for equipment, phone, travel and other direct expenses. The Fellowship does not include health, retirement or other employee benefits. To apply, please email cover letter and resume to In the cover letter, please address future plans for graduate school and how this fellowship aligns with those plans. For a full announcement including duties and responsibilities and qualification, please

  • Biocomplexity in Natural & Agricultural Systems Symposium

    The following information was sent to us from the Danforth Plant Science Center.  

    First Joint Fall Symposium

    October 8-10, 2015

    From Darwin to Borlaug

    Biocomplexity in Natural & Agricultural Systems


    The Symposium will begin at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Thursday afternoon, October 8, and will continue at the Danforth Center Friday morning, October 9. Friday afternoon will be open for tours of the Missouri Botanical Garden. An all-day session Saturday, October 10, will be held at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

    For more information, visit the Fall Symposium website at


  • Important Information for Fall Semester!

    Classes begin Aug. 24, 2015.  Are you registered?  If not, now’s the time. To find information on course options, ordering textbooks, and who to contact with questions regarding Fall 2015 enrollment check out the following information.


    We are extremely pleased to offer the following (previously unannounced) course.

    NRES 499: Ecological Soil Management

    Tues. 6:30 – 8:30 pm

    Dr. Michelle Wander

    Oct. 19 – Dec. 9


    Course Description: This course will cover the theory and practice that underpin ecological soil management to support organic and sustainable farming systems. It will explore why and how the concept of soil health and its stewardship is the foundation of organic and sustainable production.  This blended course curricula draws on materials (including system planning  tools and strategies; research/practice reviews; and farm case studies, topical articles, videos, and webinars) using farmer and researcher strategies, data, and experiences. The class will draw heavily upon farm case studies and content developed for the of practice that is part of the National eXtension website.


    Also available are:

    NRES 403: Watersheds and Water Quality  – meets Tuesdays and Thursdays

    NRES 416: Forest Biology - Wednesdays

    NRES 420: Restoration Ecology - Mondays

    NRES 454: GIS   Thursdays

    CPSC 440: Applied Statistics - Wednesdays

    NRES 499: Human Dim. of Invasive Species – Asynchronous

    NRES 598: Wildlife Ecology and Ag Policy – Thursdays (Oct. 19 – Dec 9)


    Several additional courses are available through the Depts. of Crop Science, Ag Education, and Horticulture.  Check out the full list of course offerings at:

    You can purchase your textbooks through the Illini Union Bookstore at:


    If you are ready for your Capstone experience (NRES 501, NRES 503, or NRES 505) you should already have contacted the department for approval to register. You will receive confirmation of the approval and information on enrolling from the Registrar’s office soon.


    If you need help with course selection, general advising information, or questions about navigating the program, please contact Renee Gracon, Online Program Advising Specialist, at


    For questions about how to enroll and other logistical issues, you can find help at

    Don't forget the Online Students' On-Campus Day, Sept. 12th. We have a fun-filled day packed with information just for you!  

    We hope you are eager for the fall semester to begin and we hope to see many of you at the On-Campus Day this Fall!

    Renée Gracon

  • Important: For ALL students working on (or planning) their Capstone Project

    On Monday, August 17, at 7:00 pm Central, NRES will host a webinar for all students currently working on capstone projects and for students planning to begin capstone work this fall. Students who anticipate beginning their capstone during the spring 2016 semester are welcome to attend.

    This informational session will include discussion of degree requirements, deadlines, and expectations with respect to the final paper and oral presentation.

    Prior to the webinar, please watch the previously recorded webinar on steps to take as you approach the end of your project:

    After reviewing the recording, please send a list of questions you would like addressed during the 8/17 session to Renée ( ), for inclusion in the evening’s program. Students unable to attend should notify Renée, in advance, and still send questions that they would like answered about the completion process.

    To join the Aug. 17th live presentation, please go to:

    We look forward to seeing you there.

    Piper Hodson and Renée Gracon

  • NRES Exploring Environmental Careers - Government Careers

    The final NRES Exploring Environmental Careers summer webinar series, Government Careers, is this coming Tuesday, July 28th at 7:00 pm.


    The members of our panel currently scheduled are:

    Mark Alessi (NRES B.S. 2007, NRES M.S. 2010): Assistant Director of the Department of Wildlife Management, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

    Drew Becker (NRES B.S. 2007, NRES M.S. 2010): Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Jason Berner (NRES B.S. 2005,M.L.A. Landscape Architecture, UIUC 2008): Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    Molly DeSalle-Smith (NRES B.S. 2008, M.P.A. Environmental Science & Policy, Columbia University 2009): Environmental Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    Austin Haskett (NRES B.S. 2014): Natural Resource Technician, Champaign County Forest Preserve District

    Kaitlyn Pascus (NRES B.S. 2013): Regulatory Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Frank Wu (B.S. in Biology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Current NRES M.S. student): Agricultural Resource Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service


    Register at to receive login instructions.


    The type of questions the panel members will discuss include:

    What is your current position? Describe a typical day.What was the career path that led you to where you are today?What do you know now that you wish you had known while you were still in school?What NRES-type classes do you think are most important in your position? What classes outside of NRES are valuable?What advice do you have for students searching for their first full-time job?

    If you have a particular question you would like the panel to address, please e-mail it in advance to

    We hope you will join us for this event!

  • Future Course Offerings Webinar Recording

    For those who were unable to attend last night's webinar on Fall Course Offerings, you may view the recording at: 

    Don't forget to order your books (if required) in time for the start of classes! 

    If you have additional questions or concerns about fall registration, please contact Renee at