Miranda McGillem

Environmental Science


Class Year: 2004

  • Area Program Specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Share an experience at UE that shaped your career.

I was a summer intern for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for two summers while I was a student at UE. To work with them after graduation, I learned that I would need to get three hours of soil classes. At the time, UE did not offer any classes that met that criterion. I attempted to find an online course but was unsuccessful. I mentioned my predicament to Dr. Batema and he agreed to offer me an independent study in soils that would meet the criteria for my future career with NRCS. He was great – he prepared labs and I received a lot of hands-on experience. I use a lot of the knowledge I gained from that class in my job today. In fact, my textbook is still in my office. I use the knowledge I gained to share with farmers and landowners how they can impact their soil health.

What advice do you have for current UE students?

Do not hesitate to ask for help and explore all your options. I initially wanted to be a teacher, but after speaking with a recruiter from UE at my high school and learning more about their Environmental Science program, my career path changed, and I never looked back. You don’t have to have all the answers, you just need to know where to look for them.

How did the undergraduate experiences prepare you for postgraduate/career?

Internships are great! They let you see what a job is like before you commit to a career you may not enjoy. My internship with Natural Resource Conservation Service opened my eyes to a different way to use my Environmental Science degree.

Reflecting on your time at UE, how did the community shape you?

I loved the small class sizes at UE! I personally like to know the people I work with on a daily basis and having a sense of community instead of just being another face in the crowd. In my career now, I have the opportunity to work with some of my professors which has been fun getting to catch up with them and work with them outside of the classroom. I always felt like my professors had my back at UE and truly cared about my future. The one-on-one advice and their support to help me reach my goals was so valuable.