Environmental Science Overview

The ES program places strong emphasis on experiential learning, getting students out of the classroom and into the field while simultaneously maintaining an academically rigorous curriculum. Students become trained in valuable scientific and technical skills, such as GIS, environmental chemistry, agronomy, soil science, ecology and field techniques and analysis in ecology, natural history and wildlife science.


Upon completion of their degree, students will be uniquely equipped to be instruments of God’s love and will have gained the scientific knowledge and skills required to effectively conserve and restore the ecosystems that sustain all of life.

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree is designed for students who desire more specialized training. Each concentration for this degree is described below.

  • Ecological Research Concentration The ecological research concentration is designed to prepare students who are on track for a graduate program in the environmental sciences. This concentration will provide quantitative and technical skills to implement ecological research in the field.
  • Ecology and Field Biology Concentration This concentration is designed for students who seek a greater emphasis on the knowledge and skills to be environmental professionals in the lab and in the field. It is particularly well suited for those seeking careers in government, private firms, or nonprofits as wildlife biologists, environmental consultants, or conservation scientists.
  • Geographic Information Science Concentration This concentration is designed for students who seek a more specialized education in GIS technology within an environmental context. This concentration caters to those who desire a career that demands greater sophistication in GIS knowledge and skills.
  • Agriculture and Sustainability Concentration This concentration is designed for students who seek knowledge and technical skills to address the challenges of food nutrition and production and other natural resource demands placed on ecosystems by a growing human population. Students will learn to apply ecological principles to sustain and improve agro-ecosystems for future generations.

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science is designed for greater flexibility, particularly for those students wishing to accommodate an approved environmental study abroad program. Furthermore, it allows students to explore greater breadth and diversity in their academic experiences, interests, and scientific training.


Many environmental science programs on Christian and secular campuses can be found nationwide. Thus, WJU’s Environmental Science Program places a strong emphasis on experiential learning in the field and offers customized student research projects – from course curriculum to internship opportunities in collaboration with off-campus organizations, including government, private firms and nonprofits.

Students desiring to continue to medical school, veterinary school or graduate programs in the environmental sciences can select from a greater variety of courses related to their field of interest. With a more customized course selection, students are better prepared for continued study and stronger candidates for admission into competitive schools.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities range from applied ecology, agriculture, forestry, energy resources, water resources, recreation, conservation, ecotourism and environmental education.

Graduates can apply for careers such as:

Environmental scientists for government agencies

  • Geographic information systems analysts
  • Ecologists
  • Wildlife and fisheries biologists
  • Environmental consultants for private firms
  • Park naturalist or interpretive rangers
  • Naturalists and interpretive guides for ecotourism and recreation companies
  • Environmental educators
  • Plant or soil scientists
  • Foresters
  • Habitat conservation or restoration workers
  • Wetland or rangeland managers
  • Water conservation and management
  • County planning departments in development of habitat conservation plans and natural community conservation plans.
  • -Or- continue on to pursue graduate degrees

Major employers in California, nationally, and internationally include:

United States Federal government

  • USDA – Forest Service
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • United States Geological Survey
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • United States Bureau of Reclamation
  • National Resource Conservation Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Defense Department
  • Army Corps of Engineers

State Government (California)

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • California Department of Water Resources
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE)
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Environmental Protection Agency

County and City government

  • Planning department
  • Water and natural resource department
  • Parks and recreation department

Private corporations

  • Energy industry
  • Timber industry
  • Agribusinesses
  • Environmental consulting

Nonprofit conservation organizations

  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Institute for Bird Populations
  • Ducks Unlimited

The Pacific Crest Trail Mega-Transect – A Biodiversity “Barometer”

pctMapDr. McGrann is building an ambitious ecological research project that will involve students in WJU’s Environmental Science program. The goal of this project is to track the population trends and distributions of hundreds of wildlife species, and their habitats, along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT). It is referred to as the PCT Mega-Transect. The PCT is a continuous hiking trail that runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border along the mountain ranges of California, Oregon, and Washington (2,650 miles long). This is also a collaborative research project with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as well as faculty from other campuses.

Goals and Objectives

  • Provide baseline data on the occurrence and distributions of rare and common species.
  • Contribute to both ecological theory and applied conservation science.
  • Employ survey methods and technology that are non-invasive, or minimally invasive, to wildlife and their habitats, and to the wilderness character of the PCT.

Background and Development of the PCT Mega-transect Concept

In 2006, Dr. McGrann and his wife, Amy, completed a mega-transect of the entire Pacific Crest Trail in California for their graduate work. The McGranns surveyed birds and their habitats and completed 5-minute counts of birds and rapid habitat assessments on 3,578 plots along 1,700 miles of the PCT in California. These plots were systematically established at 10-minute hiking intervals along the PCT. This work was completed in a single season between April and August.

In 2010, Dr. McGrann collaborated with Dr. Brett Furnas (Senior Environmental Scientist with CDFW) and revisited over 400 of the plots established in 2006 along about 700 miles of the PCT in northern California. In addition to conducting point counts and habitat assessments at each plot, the researchers temporarily (for three consecutive days) deployed devices that recorded the singing bird community along the PCT.

Next Steps and Future Collaboration

Building upon the methods that Dr. McGrann as developed over the last ten years, the next step in the PCT mega-transect is to complete surveys across the entire length, from Mexico to Canada, in a single season. Dr. McGrann, in collaboration with other researchers, is also expanding the taxa surveyed to amphibians, reptiles, and aquatic vertebrates (previously the mega-transect focused mainly on birds) and he is seeking out collaborative opportunities with a diverse range of scholars to include their expertise on the project.

Presently, Dr. McGrann is working with Dr. Furnas on on analyzing data from previous field seasons on the PCT. We are also planning to conduct pilot work and surveys on the PCT in upcoming field seasons.

Student Involvement

Dr McGrann is developing a new environmental science major for undergraduate students. He is working to incorporate the ecological theory and methods of the Pacific Crest Trail mega-transect directly into course curriculum for this major. Students at Jessup will have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge that they learn in their courses by engaging in every aspect of this work, including planning, fieldwork, and the publication of results with faculty advisors as well as off-campus scientists. Students will gain practical experience in ecology and conservation science.

For more information on this past work, read the following articles from the PCT Communicator of the Pacific Crest Trail Association:

For scientific and more technical information, read the following peer-reviewed scientific articles:

Learning Outcomes

  • Formulate a personal set of moral principles, or an ethic, on the environment that is centered on Christian faith and biblical principles and further informed by secular viewpoints.
  • Articulate a thorough understanding of the general natural sciences, including biology, physics, chemistry, and earth sciences.
  • Articulate a thorough understanding of several specialized disciplines within the environmental sciences, including ecology and evolution, environmental chemistry, botany, soil science, natural history, and wildlife science.
  • Be proficient at scientific and technical reading and writing and perform analyses of environmental datasets.
  • Be proficient in the use of geographic information systems in environmental analyses.
  • Think critically and express a keen awareness of current environmental crises as well as potential solutions at the local, regional, and global levels.
  • Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of environmental laws, regulations, and policies and their historical context.
  • Express an understanding of the role of environmental literature and history in shaping our modern society’s relationship to nature.
Featured Faculty
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
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Field Experience

The Environmental Science program places strong emphasis on experiential scientific training in the field allowing students to explore greater breadth and diversity in their academic experiences, interests, and scientific training. Students will learn in the classroom and lab setting, but also apply their knowledge outside the classroom with fieldwork and internships.