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Oregon State Everywhere: Geospatial technology, natural resources make a perfect pair online

Following 20 years working in data analysis and geographic information science, Jami Dennis found a pathway to gain a broader skill set and knowledge base online with Oregon State University. (Photo by Hannah Gosnell)

By Jami Dennis
OSU Ecampus 2022 alumna
Master of Natural Resources

I was not a typical grad student. For years I’ve wanted to go back to school and get my master’s degree, but due to a number of life circumstances it just didn’t happen.

Then, when I was about to turn 50 (yes, 50!) the opportunity came.

For me it was the Oregon State University Ecampus online Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science that first caught my eye. I found I could earn a graduate certificate and then continue on to pursue Oregon State’s Master of Natural Resources online. Combining my love of geospatial technology with natural resources was perfect for me.

I already had about 20 years of experience working in data analysis and GIS, but I had spent all those years using GIS in transportation and socioeconomic analysis. When you work in a specific industry, you tend to narrow your focus or get stuck in a niche. What I really wanted was to refocus my GIS and data visualization skills toward conservation and climate change projects, but I needed more education in that direction.

Jami Dennis created a highly visual, in-depth analysis of issues past and present related to the wetlands, waterbirds and water of the Klamath Basin. View her capstone project »

Through the GIS graduate certificate program, I gained valuable knowledge and experience using remote sensing and spatial analysis tools that I had not been exposed to before, given the industry niches I had been working in.

Continuing on with the variety of courses to choose from in Oregon State’s Master of Natural Resources program allowed me to explore different interests, gain knowledge and build valuable skills for the completion of my capstone project.

Being able to virtually connect with my advisor and graduate committee was very helpful. There were times in my studies when I felt overwhelmed and completely off-track, but my graduate committee was really good at offering solid advice and guidance when I needed it most.

My graduate advisor, Dr. Hannah Gosnell, was especially supportive, with a wealth of knowledge and ideas. Through her contacts on a project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I was able to join her for a field trip to the Upper Klamath Basin, the focus of my capstone project. It was an amazing experience!

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Write your own Oregon State Everywhere story by sharing the triumphs and challenges you experienced as an Ecampus student.

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I feel fortunate to have been able to complete my master’s degree online through OSU Ecampus. The flexibility allowed me to continue working and travel while pursuing my dream. Many of my friends and family think I’ll retire now, but it’s quite the contrary!

I am motivated to continue the work I started through the MNR program — studying the effects of land use change and climate change on waterbirds in the Pacific Flyway and communicating these issues using engaging storytelling techniques with maps, photos and data visualizations.

My story continues!

Learn more about Oregon State’s online Master of Natural Resources program and how it can help you fulfill your passions and meet your career goals.

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