Lake Tahoe Community College environmental program could expand | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe Community College environmental program could expand

Sebastian Foltz
sfoltz@tahoedailytribune.com
Environmental program cofounder Kathy Strain (right) assists a student during a fieldwork course.
Pat Leonard-Heffner / LTCC |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — With a variety of advocacy groups, governing bodies and regulatory agencies in the area, environmental action and the Tahoe Basin often go hand-in-hand. That’s part of the inspiration behind Lake Tahoe Community College’s new environmental technology and sustainability programs, which started this fall.

“It’s just a natural fit to have an environmental science program in the Tahoe Basin,” said Kathy Strain, senior science specialist and environmental science instructor for the college. “For where we live, it’s really important.”

Strain recently presented the college’s board members with a program update regarding growth potential moving forward.

Since starting with a single environmental science course, the program has grown to provide numerous courses with full associate degree and certificate opportunities.

Students who complete it will be qualified to either go straight into the workforce following their internships or continue study by transferring to a four-year college or university; LTCC courses are transferable to both University of California and California State University programs.

Strain said the new course concentration reflects a need to fill local jobs with organizations like California Tahoe Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service. In the past, those types of jobs were filled by candidates from outside the Tahoe Basin.

“We’re trying to model our programs on the jobs they need,” Strain said, adding that the Tahoe region provides an excellent venue for practical field experience.

With 30 students currently enrolled, Strain said she sees the program expanding substantially in the coming years. Among future objectives, the college’s plans include construction of a building exclusively for the environmental program.

“There’s great potential for it to grow,” Strain said. “It’s valuable for our basin’s future work force.”

She said if marketing efforts are successful, program enrollment could conceivably more than double by next fall.

Students currently have the option for either an associate degree or certificate of achievement with a focus on biological resources, physical resources or sustainability.

Courses focus on a variety of environmental science-related topics including field and lab methods; they are designed to give students real-world experience in field work and laboratory environments.

Strain said those who complete it will be qualified for a number of different jobs in geology, ecology, forestry, sustainability and other fields.

For more information about Lake Tahoe Community College, visit http://www.ltcc.edu.