Lincoln University prepares students for environmental problems

Sunday, June 21, 2009 | 5:57 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — With environmental warnings and green initiatives worldwide, the concern for preserving natural resources is increasing. 

As the only university in the state that offers an undergraduate degree in environmental sciences under its agriculture and environmental sciences department, students at Lincoln University are getting real-world experience.

The program began four years ago and its first graduate, Victoria Young, feels she is ready to take on the challenges.

"Most people think agricultural science is about crops and animals, but there is more to it," Young said. "It expands to our environment."

Young's emphasis has been on environmental and soil pollution, including pesticides. As Dr. John Yang's lab assistant, Young also has been active in the collection of field samples.

She has attended national and regional meetings along with other classmates, where they prepare and present progress reports based on their research.

"The funding agencies depend on their research," Yang said. "The students are very much a part of the manuscripts that are published."

Receiving federal and state research grants from agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Young and 13 other students are able to spend hours in the laboratory.

"No question is too minute, and our curiosity helps us grow," Young said.

The focal areas of study are water quality, soil remediation and GIS technology, as well as trying to find solutions to the effects after years of abuse and neglect.

"We are trying to teach prevention and protection and offer solutions through the monitoring of these items," said Dr. Frieda Eivazi, chairwoman of the department.

"More people are becoming more knowledgeable on the subject, and once they are exposed and understand the gravity of current situations, they will become more interested."

Young believes the undergraduate program essentially prepares students for their thesis statement in graduate school.

Lincoln University is actively working on devising a graduate program in the near future. Currently, the university collaborates with the MU and the Missouri University of Science and Technology for their students to further and complete their graduate research degrees.

Students including Joy Pyles and Richard Abbott are eagerly waiting for the graduate program to become a reality.

The department will coordinate the second annual "Virtual Experience Day" on September 22, giving students the opportunity to explore career options in the world of agriculture, environmental science and agricultural business jobs.


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