Kentucky is commonly broken up into five different regions, each with its own ecology and geography. That leaves us with everything from mountains to swamps, with all the varied types of flora and fauna endemic to those domains.
We also have more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union besides Alaska. Our entire border is rivers-the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Big Sandy and the Tug Fork-and that's before you even get to the big, cool serpents winding through the middle of the state like the Cumberland and the Green.
We make the most of all of it with an extensive park system, one that is also particularly well-managed from an ecological standpoint… the reintroduction of elk to Kentucky wildlife stocks beginning in the mid-1990s has been wildly successful thanks to the professionals at the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
We get all kinds of weather here, too, making atmospheric sciences an important proposition for government and business alike. Everything from tornadoes to ice storms to floods hit parts of the state with surprising regularity.
If you're majoring in environmental science, there are plenty of things to study here, and plenty of good schools to study at.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree in Kentucky
Kentucky's Department of Environmental Protection is charged with managing the resources of the commonwealth for the public good, and they are in constant need of well-educated environmental science professionals to help them in that role.
Some of the same schools that you might study at also serve as potential employers. At the University of Louisville, for example, the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center serves as a resource for state businesses in developing pollution controls, and hires full-time staff for that purpose.
A conservation scientist working in Kentucky can make around $67,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Geoscientists do even better than that, pulling about $73,000 annually, while atmospheric science can make into the low six figures.
Master's in Environmental Science in Kentucky
A master's degree gives you all the preparation you will need to take on any challenge in the environmental industry. It's important that you pick the right program, though, and Kentucky offers you a few different options that fit different career paths.
There's the University of Louisville, for instance, with two MS programs in biology offering thesis and non-thesis options. Anchored on the school's highly regarded Center for Environmental Science, you'll be working with faculty at the top of the field in this program.
Eastern Kentucky University also offers a master's in biology, but if you're looking for something with a little different angle on environmental issues, you could also consider the Master of Public Health degree there with a concentration in Environmental Health Science.
Bachelor's in Environmental Science in Kentucky
Kentucky schools also offer everything you need at the bachelor's level of environmental science education. Bellarmine University, the private Catholic school in Louisville, delivers a unique experience to select first-year environmental studies students through the Terra Learning Community program. Combining cohort-based courses with community-driven service projects and communal gardening efforts, you start your education through a firm commitment to sustainability.
If something a little more traditional is more appealing, then you can turn to the excellent public university system, exemplified by the BA/BS program in environmental science at Northern Kentucky University. Both degrees offer a solid foundation in the sciences, with the option of taking your education in either a more humanities-driven or technically-oriented direction.
Online Environmental Science Degree Options from Schools in Kentucky
Online courses open up whole new avenues to getting a degree that working professionals or anyone constrained by availability or location can take advantage of.
Kentucky schools are starting to get on board with this type of degree, led by the University of Kentucky. The New Maps Plus program leads to an MS in Digital Mapping that can be completed through online courses. It's a cutting edge education in the GIS skills that are vital for environmental studies and planning today.
You'll get a comprehensive look at not just geospatial analysis today, but also how the field got to where it is, along with an extra helping of project management and implementation coursework that any future employer will appreciate.