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Creating and Promoting 2-Year Geoscience Degrees

Debra W. Woodall, Daytona State College

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I joined the faculty at Daytona State College (DSC) in 2008 as the first and only geoscience professor—which continues to be true. My initial responsibilities included teaching introductory courses in Oceanography and Geology—predominately to non-science majors. While teaching these courses, I quickly became aware of the immense opportunities to grow the geosciences; Daytona Beach is not only located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, but also lays at the front door of the most diverse ecosystem in North America—the Indian River Lagoon Estuary. So I established goals to grow the geosciences which included creating new 2-year Associate Degrees, increasing transfer opportunities to 4-year universities and creating/expanding the number of geoscience courses, labs and internship opportunities for students at DSC.

After meeting with the DSC Administrators in 2010 and presenting my ideas, they encouraged me to move forward with my goals and allowed me to establish a new name—the Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies (IMES). We also created new major codes to identify students interested in working on their A.A. Degree in either Marine Science (#7922), Marine Biology (#7921), Environmental Science (#7935) or Ocean Engineering (#7951). We have since added a major code for an A.S. Degree in Environmental Science Technology (#2230). And—more importantly and fun for me—they bought me a boat!!!—small but mighty.

I began meeting my goals by identifying 4-year universities offering B.S. Degrees in Marine Science, Marine Biology, Environmental Science and Ocean Engineering and then setting out to meet with program advisors at each university to establish articulation agreements—recognizing that doing this would ease student transfer to their programs and serve to inform our students of the appropriate courses to take while enrolled at DSC. Articulation agreements have now been established with numerous public and private universities around the state. To make our students more attractive to these universities and competitive with other 4-year students, we have also created new courses that expand field and lab experiences for students in the marine and environmental fields.

For the A.S. Environmental Science Technology Program, we have established strong ties with some very supportive public/private industries that serve as our Advisory Board members. These highly enthusiastic folks have also created free field training opportunities for our students and are anxiously waiting to mentor their first interns during the Spring, 2013 semester.

I also set out to promote and advertise these new 2-year degrees. First, I worked with our IT Department to create a website http://www.DaytonaState.edu/IMES . Here, students can review the goals of IMES and the courses recommended by our articulating partners. We also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DaytonaStateIMES where we post opportunities for and activities completed by our students. Other supporting efforts include a mass-mailing system created for me by our IT Department so that I can identify students by their major code and then send information via email about upcoming activities or scholarship opportunities.

There have been challenges! First and foremost—much of what was needed to create a successful geoscience program was a bit of a surprise to the administrators. Field courses required financial support (e.g., field equipment) and efforts (e.g., liability insurance) not previously required by classroom-only degrees. But—in the 2 years since first starting IMES, we now have almost 400 students enrolled in our majors. The interest is there---and now administrative support is growing!

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