Long before we were a state known for gambling and good times, we were known for another way to get rich: the Comstock Lode.
The Lode didn't just unleash a torrent of wealth into Nevada and neighboring states, though. It also created a wave of technical innovation in mining processes and mineral extraction. Techniques such as the Washoe Process of pan amalgamation were invented and practiced on a wide scale along the banks of the Carson River to eke out every last flake of gold and silver from the lode.
Unfortunately, that has left our state with quite a problem… the mercury used in the process have left the river, and the now dry Washoe Lake, with severe heavy metal contamination.
Nor did mining companies immediately clean up their act once the dangers of contamination were known. Nevada has only three Superfund sites, and all of them are mining-related, with contamination occurring as recently as the 1980s.
These are only some of the environmental challenges facing the state today, and all of them demand highly-trained, committed environmental science specialists to mitigate the harm. And we have just the right universities here to get that training if you can bring the commitment with you.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree in Nevada
With a booming economy, you will find no shortage of environmental science jobs throughout the state. The state itself, particularly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, need environmental scientists to help formulate policy and ensure compliance throughout the state.
Mining is still big here, and that creates opportunities for geoscientists and compliance managers with Nevada firms. Companies like Barrick Gold Corporation hire graduates here to fill positions, both locally and around the global, relying on their expertise to maintain compliance with complex regulatory structures no matter where the company operates.
There are also positions in academia, such as those at the Desert Research Institute, where technicians and scientists are in demand to help perform interdisciplinary research in atmospheric and climate science.
Atmospheric scientists do pretty well for themselves here, making an average of $93,770 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Environmental and conservation scientists are not quite so in demand, but still make healthy salaries in the low 60s here.
Master's in Environmental Science in Nevada
The University of Nevada is really the only game in town when it comes to earning a master's in environmental science. Both Reno and Las Vegas branches have graduate programs on offer, such as the UNLV Master of Science in Geoscience Degree. If you haven't looked out the window lately, you might have forgotten that we've got a lot of rocks around here. If you look a little closer, you might find that some of them, and the stories they tell about what lies beneath and how it all got this way, are pretty fascinating.
At UNLV, you'll learn how to tell those stories and prepare yourself for careers in either academia or the private sector through advanced training in cutting-edge practices such as seismic imaging. It's an ideal location to learn the most advanced topics in geoscience as well as putting them to use in real-world projects.
Bachelor's in Environmental Science in Nevada
Of course, the University of Nevada system is also the big player when it comes to bachelor's programs in the environmental sciences in the state, too. But within Reno's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science you'll find that there's actually a pretty broad variety of majors available, including:
- Environmental Science
- Forest Management and Ecology
- Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
You also have a private school option in the form of Tahoe's Sierra Nevada College. You won't find a more gorgeous or spectacular setting for studying environmental science than that surrounding the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences, which practices what it preaches by housing itself in a platinum LEED-certified design building. Partnered with UC-Davis and the UN-system Desert Research Institute, you'll get on-tap expertise and access to exciting research projects from four different universities in one place.