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NRES Online M.S. Blog

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  • Goals and Objectives Webinar

    If you were unable to attend last evening's webinar on Writing Goals and Objectives for the Capstone Project, you may access the audio recording by going to:


    The information in this webinar is especially of interest to those planning to do an internship. It is essential in developing the Internship Proposal (GIAF) that you write meaningful goals and focused objectives. This webinar provides many strong examples from current and former students to illustrate the process. 


    After viewing the recorded webinar, if you have any questions about the content, please contact me at I am happy to discuss the process with you. 


  • End-of-Semester Reminders

    Hi Everyone,


    We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.


    The semester is nearing its end. Don't forget the following:


    1) Register for the Final Written Exam over the 4 core areas if you have completed all of the required courses. The exam will be distributed on Jan. 4th. You must have added your name to the distribution list by December 11th. The URL to add your name to the list is:


    2) If you are planning to enroll in capstone credit, and have an approved proposal, please add your name to the list at: Student must provide their name, the capstone project title, the course number (NRES 503 or 505), the number of hours they want to enroll in, and their capstone advisor's name in order to be authorized for enrollment. 


    3) All students are invited to complete course evaluations for each course in which they are currently enrolled. These evaluations, distributed by ICES, are an important way for instructors to know what you found most useful in the course and in what areas the curriculum may need improvement. Your comments are anonymous. We welcome your constructive feedback.


    4) The final oral presentation of this semester is Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 9:00 am Central. The topic is: Pennsylvania Peregrine Falcon Natal Dispersal and Habitat Imprinting by Ann Devine. You can access the presentation by going to:


    5) If you enrolled in capstone credit for Spring 2015 and have not completed the degree, you must petition for an extension of your "incomplete". Failure to do so will result in your course grade automatically converting to an "F". The link to the petition can be found at: The completed form should be submitted to the NRES office ( 


    Best wishes on your upcoming exams, presentations, and end-of-the semester papers.


  • Important message to students who enrolled in Capstone Credit - Spring 2015

    If you were enrolled in a capstone course (NRES 501, 503, or 505) during the spring 2015 semester and you have not finished the capstone requirements, please take note. The “incomplete (I)” grade you were awarded will automatically convert to an “F” at the end of the spring semester UNLESS you complete the petition to request an extension. You will find the form at:


    You will need to supply your name, UIN, the capstone course number and CRN, the number of credit hours for which you were enrolled, and a brief statement indicating that you are still actively working on your capstone project. (Those who have previously petitioned for an extension do not need to re-petition.)


    Please take care of this before the end of the semester! For further information, contact Renée Gracon at

  • Photo Contest Results!

    A record number of students submit their photos to this year's NRES Online Students' Photo Contest. The photos were amazing! The judging is final and I am pleased to announce the top three finishers in each category:



                    1st PlaceRock River Falls submitted by Faon Grandinetti

                    2nd PlaceOlympic National Park at Sunset by Brian Smith

                    3rd PlaceTransitional Marsh by Scott Christy

    Students in Action

                    1st PlaceCold, Wet and Windy… by Brian Smith

                    2nd PlaceSuperior Toes by Faon Grandinetti

                    3rd PlaceSoil Sampling  by Christin Crutchfield


    We want to thank all of the students who participated in this year's competition and invite others to join the fun. Begin taking photos now for next year's competition! 

    Renée Gracon

  • Written Final Exam Spring 2016 Reminder

    If you have completed at least one course from each of the four Core Areas and are planning to take the Written Final Exam this spring, distribution of the exam is scheduled for January 4, 2016.


    If you have not already added your name to the distribution list, please go to . Students whose names appear on the list will be invited to an informational webinar on November 23rd, so it is important to add your name to the Distribution List if you are planning to take the Spring 2016 Written Final Exam. 


    For questions about exam eligibility, please contact Renée Gracon at

  • John Weedon's Capstone Presentation - time rescheduled

    Please note that if you are planning to attend John's capstone presentation on




    the time has been revised. The presentation will begin at 2:00 pm (Central), November 19th.


    You can join the presentation by copying and pasting this URL into your browser:


    For further information, please contact Renee Gracon at


  • Upcoming Advising Webinars & Presentations

    Don't forget the upcoming webinars and presentations scheduled virtually during the remainder of the semester. To join the sessions, please go to:


    Nov. 16 - 6:00 pm. Course Selection for Spring 2016. Learn about the upcoming course offerings. 




    Nov. 23 - 6:00 pm. Webinar for students planning to take the Spring 2016 Written Final Exam. (You must be registered to receive further information and an invitation to attend). To register, go to: 


    Nov. 30 - 6:00 pm. Writing Goals and Objectives. Recommended for all students preparing to do a capstone project - especially those doing internships. 




    For further information, please contact Renee Gracon at

  • New Capstone Forms

    The NRES Department has designed several new documents to help make the Capstone process easier to navigate and more transparent. These will soon be available on the NRES website. In the meanwhile, if you would like a copy of any of these documents, please contact me at I would be happy to email them to you.


    Capstone Readiness Self-Assessment (Please specify for Independent Research or Internship): This document should be submitted to the NRES office by the time you have completed 16 hours of academic coursework. You will be asked to identify the topic of interest to you and evaluate the skills you possess, your abilities to read scientific literature and write technically, and other information pertinent to the onset of your capstone project. The information you provide will guide the strategy for finding a suitable Research Director/Internship Organization and assist you with preparation for the capstone project. 


    Student Responsibilities for Capstone Projects (Please specify for Independent Research or Internship): There are three important objectives of all capstone projects, to demonstrate your ability to: understand and apply the scientific process; analyze and interpret relevant scientific information; and communicate scientific information proficiently. The option (Independent Research or Internship) that you select will prescribe the appropriate capstone responsibilities. This document will inform you of the process, identify critical success factors, and help you better understand the expectations of students meeting this degree requirement. Numerous resources are recommended including, but not limited to, a list of faculty available to serve as research directors, flow charts to illustrate the process, resources to develop research skills, guidelines for writing the final paper, and resources to improve your skillfulness in writing.


    Student Checklist for Capstone Option (Please specify for Independent Research or Internship): This checklist will organize your efforts and help you keep track of your progress. Simple things like meeting coursework requirements, requesting a degree audit, completing your oral presentation by the appropriate semester deadline, etc. are all included in this helpful sheet. 


    Graduate Internship Approval Form (GIAF) REVISED: Although every capstone project must demonstrate the key objectives mentioned above, an internship must serve two purposes: to meet the needs of the internship organization and to fulfill your academic responsibilities. Establishing clear, well-written and relevant goals and objectives for the project  are critical to the project’s success because these are the criteria upon which your project will be evaluated. The goals and objectives section of the former document has been revised in order to more clearly articulate the relationship between goals, objectives and action steps. For further information and an opportunity to practice writing and evaluating goals, we recommend that you attend the Nov. 30 (6:00pm) webinar. You can join the session by going to:

  • US River's Study - Nitrate Levels

    The following information was reproduced from an email notification provided by Dr. William Wilber, USGS.

    "New USGS Study—U.S. Rivers Show Few Signs of Improvement from Historic Nitrate Increases


    A recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ( provides a rare glimpse into how nitrate levels in 22 large rivers across the Nation have changed over the last 65 years.


    During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest. In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller and levels have remained high in most of the rivers studied.


    The greatest increases in river nitrate levels coincided with increased nitrogen inputs from livestock and agricultural fertilizer, which grew rapidly from 1945 to 1980.  In some urbanized areas along the East and West coasts during the same period, river nitrate levels doubled. Since 1980, nitrate changes have been smaller as the increase in fertilizer use has slowed in the Midwest and large amounts of farmland have been converted to forest or urban land along the East coast.


    The USGS study, reported in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, includes rivers flowing into the Great Lakes and coastal waters such as Long Island Sound, Delaware River estuary, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. 


    Track water quality online ( at 108 streams and rivers monitored as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment project.


    For additional information on the long-term nitrate study, contact Ted Stets,"

  • Upcoming Student Capstone Presentations

    You are invited to attend the following capstone presentations:


    Nov. 19 at 3:00 pm - John Weedon will present his capstone research:

    Wild Bees in an Agriculture Matrix: Nesting and Floral Preferences.


    Dec. 1 at 9:00 am  - Ann Devine will present her capstone research: 

    Pennsylvania Peregrine Falcon Natal Dispersal in Habitat Imprinting (1994 - 2014)


    To join these webinars, go to:


    For questions regarding these presentations, please contact Renee Gracon at