Environmental Science students have the opportunity to apply their classroom and field study knowledge and skills to real world environmental problems in the Practicum course.
For example , groups of three or four students worked with the City of Arcata to improve resource use. One group assessed the Arcata Community Forest for recreational uses that were causing wear and tear on and off trails. By studying how people use the forest, they were able to make recommendations that served as a basis for revising the current plan for the Forest as well as suggesting measures that would decrease resource damage.
Take Back the Tap, now a student club on campus, began as a project in the Practicum course. It continued for two semesters culminating in several hydration stations for filing water bottles, and first a reduction in the use of plastic bottles for water, leading to the complete ban that is now in place.
The area between the Forestry and Natural Resources buildings is now an aesthetically and environmentally pleasing landscape as a result of Practicum projects that removed nonnative plants and planted a variety of native species.
Another group, working with the city and nonprofit groups, engaged in a planning effort and educational campaign to reduce the number and negative effects of invasive non native plant species in the nearby dunes, municipal park land, and private holdings.
Other groups worked on issues about garbage and recycling. One promoted composting by planning workshops and setting up a website to provide information on backyard composting. Another examined waste reduction at the source. They proposed cost effective ways for the city to reduce and reuse instead of relying on recycling. By looking at source reduction and the challenges to implementing it, they helped the city figure out ways to be better resource stewards.
Other student groups have worked on projects for a wider variety of constituencies:
- One group examined the effectiveness of the Institute for Sustainable Forestry’s efforts to increase use of third party Smartwood certified lumber and other wood based products.
- Another is promoting the use of greywater systems for summer irrigation in this area.
- A third group examined the feasibility of creating a repository for watershed-based information in the proposed Redwood Creek National Watershed Center to be located in Orick, 40 miles north of Arcata.
- Herbicide use on lands in the Freshwater Creek watershed were monitored by a fourth group working with the North Coast Water Quality Control Board.
- Working with the campus Recycling Coordinator, the fifth group studied the amount of waste avoided by the reduce, reuse, recycle efforts of the University.