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Experiential learning led to flourishing career prospects for fisheries and wildlife sciences alumna

Graduating from Oregon State’s fisheries and wildlife sciences online bachelor’s program gave Jordan Levi the applied, science-based education she needed to make a career out of her passion for the outdoors.

By Julie Cooper
Oct. 17, 2018

New textbooks, classmates from all over the world, the cover of the forest, calls from birds unseen, the fresh smell of soil (and sometimes fish). These are all the well-known staples of a college classroom.

At least, that’s what Jordan Levi came to expect of her learning environments while enrolled online in the Oregon State University Ecampus fisheries and wildlife sciences bachelor’s degree program.

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When she first began her postsecondary education in Maine, she quickly discovered that neither the university nor the campus-based learning format she’d chosen were right for her. And settling for less than the best was not a part of her plan.

An avid outdoorswoman, Jordan realized she wanted a career that would allow her to protect the wild spaces that were such a beloved part of her life, and she wanted a degree program that would allow her to spend as much time in them as possible.

Naturally, the next step was to enroll in Oregon State’s fisheries and wildlife program, which boasts the title of the nation’s first – and still the only – bachelor’s program in combined fisheries and wildlife sciences offered 100 percent online.

“OSU was a perfect fit for me,” says Jordan, a resident of Old Forge, New York. “They have such a high-ranked online program, and I felt that online fit me better because it gave me flexibility and I could still travel or work.”

This time, she knew she’d made the right decision.

“The program provided the flexibility and convenience I wanted without sacrificing active and experiential learning.”

The structured class discussions made possible by the online format allowed her more personal interactions with her classmates and instructors than her previous face-to-face courses.

Those conversations with her classmates who were located across the nation and the world opened up a global knowledge base of fisheries and wildlife management and conservation techniques.

Fisheries and wildlife sciences alumna Jordan Levi stands in a field and holds a brown mallard duck which she banded and released as part of her work with the DEC. Jordan is wearing a khaki baseball cap and an olive green shirt.

As a fish and wildlife technician with the DEC, Jordan banded and released the mallard duck pictured above. “My hard work in school really paid off and now I’m able to put the knowledge I gained at OSU into practice in the field,” she says.

“I could learn how management happens in Oregon versus New York versus Asia and all over the country and the world,” she says.

With Oregon State Ecampus, the world became Jordan’s classroom, and experiential learning was the compass that led her.

During her time as a student, she interned with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as an assistant forest ranger, developing the public-facing skills she needed to thrive in her field. A second internship at the Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth, Maine, gave her practice in hatchery management and Atlantic salmon conservation.

A remote field trip for one of her classes required her to join a professional birder to practice identification skills, which quickly landed her a post-graduation job as a bird research technician in New York. Once there, she conducted bird behavior studies and point counts as well as bat and mammal studies.

Since graduating in June, Jordan’s career prospects have continued to blossom.

She’s currently working as a fish and wildlife technician for the New York State DEC and has positions lined up where she’ll gain further experience at a fish hatchery, and she’ll also monitor furbearer populations in the Adirondack Mountains.

“These opportunities would not be possible without my degree from Oregon State,” she says. “The program provided the flexibility and convenience I wanted without sacrificing active and experiential learning.”

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