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Virginia Tech's natural resources and conservation program ranked No. 1 by USA Today College edition

Aug. 18, 2015 – USA Today College has ranked Virginia Tech as the nation’s best for studying natural resources and conservation.

“We are proud of our efforts that contributed to this ranking,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. “For many years various professional studies and groups had been rating both our undergraduate and graduate programs at or near the top. It is nice to finally have a major media organization recognize our educational program as the best in the country.”

In the past, media organizations traditionally have not ranked natural resources programs because most rankings focus on disciplines and curricula that enroll larger numbers of students. While many U.S. colleges offer environmental science and natural resources related courses, only 46 institutions offer a comprehensive slate.

USA Today wrote that natural resources and conservation studies programs are important to rank “because conserving natural resources has become a topic of intense interest…. People have realized the importance of preserving the world we live in and maintaining it for future generations.”

In 2013 the U.S. graduated 17,818 students from natural resources and conservation related programs from 729 colleges and universities.

College Factual, which collected the data, noted that it used more objective data and metrics that are outcomes than other rankings that relied on data from subjective surveys. “One of our strengths is that we can rank many more colleges and majors than your typical ranking site,” explained College Factual.

Under Winistorfer’s leadership the college has emphasized the science of sustainability as its core brand to shape its curricula, a focus that contributed to its USA Today ranking. “Our students come to us because of our academic excellence and uniqueness,” he said.

“Our program is at the nexus of climate, energy, air, and water issues that impact production of food and material needs for human society,” Winistorfer pointed out. “We teach and research how to lower the human carbon footprint by producing, utilizing, and conserving renewable resources while sustaining our planet. Healthy ecosystems produce healthy economies. They are all interdependent.”

For instance, housed in the College of Natural Resources and Environment but cutting across four other Virginia Tech colleges and 13 departments, a new bachelor of science degree titled Water: Resources, Policy, and Management addresses complex interdisciplinary issues. The degree provides students with a background not only in water science but also in law, economics, management, and the social sciences.  (continue reading.........)

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