The Relationship Among Pre-College Natural Resource Career Programs in Increasing Enrollment and Success of Natural Resource Undergraduate Students
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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The numbers of individuals entering the field of natural resources nationally has declined by forty percent since 1995. One of the largest natural resource colleges, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point (UWSP) College of Natural Resources (CNR) has also experienced an average annual decrease in enrollment of one percent since 1980. The UWSP CNR is exploring ways to increase enrollment by studying the role natural resource career camps play in leading students to the CNR. By determining the significance of these programs, UWSP CNR will be better able to assess whether developing a closer relationship with these programs might yield substantive benefits for recruiting. Focus groups were used to explore the range of experiences that lead students to choose natural resource fields. The UWSP undergraduate student body was then surveyed to identify differences among the full range of majors, providing a relative assessment of the role that camps and other programs play in guiding student choice. Surveys were also sent to parents of camp participants to learn more about their post-camp experiences. A positive relationship between natural resource camp participation and enrollment in a natural resources university was found. A positive relationship between natural resource career program participation and working in a natural resource field was also revealed. By examining the relationship between those who attend natural resource career-oriented camps and those who enter the UWSP CNR in this way, the college will be able to better understand the role of pre-college natural resource career camps in guiding young people to natural resource programs. The results have policy implication for state and non-state groups assessing the utility of camps that emphasis natural resource careers and suggest that colleges should increase their involvement in these camps, even if only for their self interest.