Outdoor Conservation

As a student of Mount Mercy University’s outdoor conservation program, you will study and explore numerous facets of the natural world, and learn the skills and practices needed to embark on a career focused on the care and preservation of natural resources and ecosystems.

The core courses build on the fundamental principles of biology, evolution of living organisms, ecology, criminal justice and statistics. With the help of dedicated faculty mentors, outdoor conservation majors study the impact of globalization on environmental and conservation strategies and gain technical expertise in geographic information systems (GIS) analysis, radio telemetry, remote sensing, environmental chemical analysis, and field sampling techniques

To support your area(s) of interest as an outdoor conservation major, you’ll focus on one of three tracks:

  • Natural Resources (science intensive, Bachelor of Science)
  • Law Enforcement (science and criminal justice focus, Bachelor of Arts)
  • General Studies (liberal arts focus, Bachelor of Arts)

A major in outdoor conservation also works well with Mount Mercy’s 45+ other majors and minors like pre-law, science marketing or environmental justice.

Under the three different program tracks, students develop the intellectual expertise and technical skills needed to succeed in careers in park management, natural resource conservation, and numerous other outdoor careers in governmental and private organizations.

Experience takes you outside the classroom. Our degree in outdoor conservation helps you develop valuable skills through hands-on, in-the-field research and internships with Mount Mercy partners like Indian Creek Nature Center and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Other past opportunities include research on sand dune prairie succession, restoration of hill prairie, and radio-tracking of ornate box turtles.

Student outside using a telemetry instrument A student outside using a instrument to scan a leaf

What can I do with an outdoor conservation degree?

Mount Mercy graduates who majored in outdoor conservation are prepared for a variety of careers with international, federal, state and county organizations, as well as nonprofits and private companies. Popular choices for outdoor conservation majors include parks, natural resources, education, eco-tourism and conservation-based organizations.

Our alumni have found jobs as naturalists, outdoor educators, park rangers, conservation officers and ecologists working for employers like:

  • U.S. Soil Conservation Service
  • Scott County Waste Management, Iowa
  • Muscatine County Conservation, Iowa
  • Cedar County Conservation, Iowa
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Our alumni say Mount Mercy is the top school for outdoor conservation in Iowa:

“The outdoor conservation professors encouraged me to think for myself and form my own ideas which helped guide me to my career in environmental stewardship. Without the help and guidance from all of Mount Mercy staff, I would not be where I am today. I can't thank them enough […] Every day I feel good about what I do because I know the impact I am making on the ecosystem that surrounds us.”

Bryce Stalcup ’10, Scott County Waste Commission

A student using calipers to collect measurement of a small turtle Students using nets and other conservation methods to collect data on fish in a stream