ENR Capstone: STUDENTS Advancing solutions to environment and natural resource challenges through partnerships and multidisciplinary student engagement
Student posters were on display during a special networking event held on the campus of The Ohio State University on April 20, 2022. The networking event preceded what has become a highlight of spring semester for the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), our Earth Day program organized by the school, and our Environmental Professionals Network.
The networking session was the culmination of a semester-long capstone experience offered through the SENR. Four SENR capstone classes (ENR 4900.01 and ENR 4567) were offered spring semester with a total of 28 project presentations on display at the event.
On the ENR Capstone Experience
Capstone students this semester focused on a wide variety of important environment and natural resource topical areas, including projects focused on fish and aquatic biodiversity assessment, invasive species treatment research, management of semi-natural areas, habitat restoration, and disturbance impacts on soils and vegetation. Through their projects students applied their cumulative knowledge and gained innumerable skills to help develop professionally.
“There is no substitute for the real-world experience students gain in these projects. Coordinating and working with stakeholders offers tons of soft skill development we just cannot get in traditional classroom settings. These projects end up being like extended interviews for students with some of the best potential employers in the region – talk about a win-win!” – Steve Lyon, associate professor in the SENR and spring capstone instructor
“Not only are students able to apply their knowledge, skills, and abilities learned in their disciplinary fields, but also function as a multi-disciplinary team and working on a vaguely defined problem,” said Scott Demyan, assistant professor in the SENR and one of this semester’s capstone instructors. “An individual project may have multiple possible approaches available, so the students work together with their counterpart and stakeholder to define the specific project scope and justify their approaches and methods. Students also utilize their soft skills in data and spatial analysis, presentation, and communicating results to both technical and non-technical audiences.”
Students co-creating knowledge and finding solutions in partnership
A key component of the capstone experience that continues to grow is the opportunity to partner with a variety of organizations and environmental professionals. The two capstone classes instructed by Dr. Rebecca Swab with a theme of conservation had five community partners, including Columbus and Franklin County Metroparks, Preservation Parks, City of Columbus, Rapid 5, and Licking Land Trust.
“I'm pleased to see how our capstone classes have expanded their connections with a growing network of community partners, and this year is no different,” said Greg Hitzhusen, assistant professor of professional practice, who teaches autumn and spring offerings of the capstone experience. “Most exciting for me is that we're now being contacted by alumni who are environmental professionals who want to collaborate with our students through capstone projects to help them solve challenges they are facing in their work.”
Additional photos from the networking event are available to view here.