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Conservation Technology

People who work in conservation love being outdoors. They also work well with people and have good communication skills. Working conditions vary considerably and are often physically demanding. Although some of the work is solitary, foresters and conservation scientists also deal regularly with landowners, loggers, forestry technicians and aides, farmers, ranchers, government official special interest groups, and the public in general.

Some foresters and conservation scientists work regular hours in offices or labs. Others may split their time between field work and office work, while independent consultants (and especially new, less experienced workers) spend the majority of their time outdoors overseeing or participating in hands-on work. Some foresters and conservation scientists work outdoors in all types of weather, sometimes in isolated areas. Foresters also may work long hours fighting fires. Conservation scientists often are called to prevent erosion after a forest fire, and they provide emergency help after floods, mudslides, and tropical storms.

Career Info

Nearly two-thirds of salaried conservation scientists and foresters work for federal, state or local governments. Other top employers include colleges and universities, and consulting firms. States with the highest number of jobs in this field include Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Alaska; top paying states for this career field are Connecticut, Alabama, Massachusetts, New York and Louisiana. Job titles include Conservation Scientist, Forester, Park Ranger, Conservationist, Naturalist, Park Manager, Resource Technician, Vegetation Specialist, Operations Supervisor, Park Attendant, Educator.

Most job openings will result from the number of workers who leave jobs on a seasonal basis and from retirements. Demand for forest and conservation workers increases as more land is set aside to protect natural resources or wildlife habitats. In addition, jobs may be created by federal legislation designed to prevent destructive wildfires. Increasing pressure for the U.S. Forest Service to undertake major road repair may also result in higher levels of employment.


The two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) curriculum prepares students for immediate employment associated with conservation, agriculture, or environmental science. Our graduates are now working as park rangers, conservationists, naturalists, and science teachers.

ECC’s two-year Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree is designed to transfer to most four-year colleges and universities. Students who plan to transfer their credits are encouraged to visit with an admissions representative or academic advisor of the college or university to which they plan to transfer, to ensure that the transfer of their ECC credits is seamless and complete.

The majority of ECC’s Conservation Technology majors transfer to Upper Iowa University, the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin and South Dakota State University; others have transferred successfully to a number of other colleges.

Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State, UNI and Iowa

ECC participates in the Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa to enable ECC students to transfer credits seamlessly to any of the state universities. Participants are dual-enrolled at ECC and the university with access to academic advising and student services at both institutions. The universities guarantee admission into the desired degree program, provided all requirements are met. Ask the ECC Admissions Office for more information!

The Ellsworth Experience

Here’s what you can look forward to in ECC’s Conservation Technology program:

  • Enjoy the vast majority of your Conservation Technology classes and activities outdoors.
  • Spend LOTS of time at Calkins Nature Area & Interpretive Center, a 76-acre natural resource located along the Iowa River just three miles from campus. It’s ECC’s “outdoor laboratory” for studying woodland, wetland and prairie ecosystems.
  • Hands-on activities include fish shocking, monitoring wildlife populations, fish sampling in streams, bald eagle surveying, re-establishing prairies, building wildflower (and other) seed collections, and more.
  • Master the identity of every tree and bush native to Iowa, and its role in the ecosystem.
  • Explore and help maintain the ECC Natural History Museum (housed at Calkins Interpretive Center), an extensive collection of more than 600 mounted mammal and bird specimens, an avian egg collection, a mussel collection from the Iowa River, an assortment of rocks/minerals/fossils, and many native North American artifacts.
  • Gain a hands-on understanding of current field technology, including Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  • Care for injured and orphaned wildlife as part of the Animal Care & Rehabilitation class.
  • Local field trips include activities like astronomy, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, frog and toad surveying, monarch tagging, and exploring beautiful and unique landscapes.
  • Regional field trips feature zoos, museums and wildlife refuges.
  • Gain summer on-the-job work experiences with conservation agencies for a practical application of your ECC coursework.
  • Meet many Iowa conservation professionals, who will help you develop a resume and cover letter and practice your interviewing skills.
  • Participate in social and outdoor activities through ECC’s Conservation Club. Includes regular meetings, pizza parties and picnics, field trips, and community service projects (building bird houses, planting trees, assisting Hardin and Franklin County Conservation Boards with special events).

There’s more …

  • The College offers generous scholarships and financial aid packages … there are many generous scholarships available to Conservation Technology majors.
  • What students appreciate about ECC is our smaller class sizes, which results in more one-on-one attention from the instructor and greater classroom success.
  • Professor Nancy Slife is a proud ECC alumni with a genuine love of nature that is quickly conveyed to her students. Once you’ve met Nancy, you’re hooked!