The University of Minnesota’s Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management (ESPM) major is making a difference in cities, counties and watershed districts in the Twin Cities metro area. This semester, students in the capstone course “ESPM 4041W: Problem Solving for Environmental Change” gained real-life experience by forming groups to complete one of five environmental projects for the city of Fridley.
For over 16 years, the ESPM major has offered capstone courses that use engagement to benefit students and Minnesota communities. In partnership with the U of M’s departments in the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, ESPM 4041W provides work experience in land use planning and sustainability. Students gather and analyze data to compile final recommendations for future use in partner cities surrounding the metro area. Although they can always reach out to class faculty and environmental professionals for guidance, student groups in ESPM 4041W do most of their work independently.
Mitchell Seidel, a junior in the ESPM major, relishes the freedom to learn on the job. Seidel took the capstone course for hands-on experience in an environmentally engaged scenario. This fall, his group’s stormwater management project provided the city of Fridley with environmental consulting, and ESPM students with valuable skills and experience. “It’s nice to have a tangible product and assist a community at the same time”, says Seidel. He and his group - the “Stormwater Squad” - will look for careers in a growing sustainability field armed with real experience, thanks to environmental engagement opportunities at the U of M.