Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program Receives Award

Sierra College’s Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS) program was recognized with an Exemplary Program Honorable Mention award on January 16, 2019 by the California Community College Board of Governors. The Exemplary Program Award was established by the Board of Governors in 1991 to recognize outstanding community college programs throughout the state.

The theme for this year’s Exemplary Program Award was “Environmental Responsibility” which could be demonstrated in a variety of ways, including specific degree/certificate programs, campus programs or projects with a focus on sustainability, and/or collaborations with other programs on campus or within the community. 

Sierra College Academic Senate President, Andrea Neptune, provided the ESS program outcomes in her nomination letter noting,” The program is designed to impart students with the following:

  • The ability to understand and apply the scientific principles involved in environmental studies;
  • The ability to understand and apply social science concepts involved in solving environmental issues;
  • A basic understanding of the nature of sustainable practices;
  • The ability to integrate and communicate science and social science data with integrity and reason;
  • An understanding of the basic political processes at the local, national and global levels.”

In addition to providing students with the requirements to obtain an Associate’s Degree in ESS or to transfer to a four-year program, the ESS Department is involved in campus sustainability and outreach efforts. The department has offered a Sustainable Living Series through Sierra’s Community Education program and has an active role in Earth Week and the People & Culture Days events. The program also incorporates student engagement through internships and volunteer opportunities with community partners such as the Placer Land Trust, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Yosemite National Park, Dry Creek Conservancy and the Sierra Streams Institute.

Students may also participate in the Environmentally Conscious Organization of Students (ECOS) club. ECOS works to support and promote environmental advocacy, sustainability, and education. They also work diligently to track issues that affect the environment at local, state, national and global levels. As a member of the club students have the opportunity to attend conferences, go on field trips, work on restoration projects, and work in the student gardens. They are also involved in the planning of the Earth Day festivities every spring.

This is not the first time the program has been recognized. In 2011, the ESS program was awarded the Sierra Business Council’s Vision Award for its work educating the green workforce, participating in community outreach, and its efforts extending sustainable practices across the district.

It is also no surprise enrollment in the program has more than quadrupled since its inception in 2009!