Geographic Information Systems

Grad Spreads the Word About Watershed Issues

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ENV Renee BourassaIn 2009, when she started her graduate work at Hood, Renee Bourassa was working as a loan processor for a small mortgage company. The job allowed her the flexibility to take classes at night in order to work towards a new career in environmental science. Later she chose the internship option to complete the program, leaving her day job to pursue an internship at a local organic farm called Fox Haven Farm.

That summer, Renee says, “I worked through the practical applications of the environmental principles I had learned in class, including the importance of riparian buffers, soil conservation and other foundations of organic farming. My master’s project involved testing nutrient management practices to see how they changed nutrient levels in the soil.” As the internship came to a close, Renee took a position at the farm’s education center where she “did a little bit of everything” –  including designing and implementing educational programs for all ages geared towards living a healthier, environmentally-focused life.

These days Renee can be found at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin where her job is to inform the public of issues concerning the Potomac watershed. “My education at Hood College gave me the background in science and the understanding of ecological systems to translate our work at ICPRB into terms the general public can understand and relate to,” Renee says.

In addition to a master’s in Environmental Biology (2014), Renee earned a GIS Certificate (2013) and a B.A. in Law and Society (2007) from Hood . She and her husband now make their home in Boyds, Maryland.  They expect their first child in January 2016.

Boulton Testifies Before House of Delegates

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April Boulton, Ph.D.

April Boulton, Ph.D.

April Boulton, director of the Hood Graduate School Environmental Biology program, recently testified before the Maryland House of Delegates regarding the issues of science surrounding neonicotinoids and pollinators. Her remarks related to a bill before the House concerning the negative impact of a newer pesticide class (neonicotinoids) on insect pollinators. Dr. Boulton’s extensive background with both native and commercial bee fauna in Maryland led to the invitation to testify.

Michael Takes Soil Conservation Post

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Evelyn MichaelRecent ENV/GIS graduate Evelyn Michael recently accepted a position with the Frederick Soil Conservation District as a soil conservation planner II. Evelyn will be applying many of her ENV/GIS skills from Hood in efforts to encourage landowners to participate in plans to improve water quality and reduce soil erosion.

Her work involves taking inventory and evaluating Best Management Practices (BMPs) through on-site assessment, constructing plans to achieve each landowner’s goals, and promoting practices consistent with District and Maryland Department of Agriculture priorities. She will also determine BMPs eligible for Maryland Agricultural Cost Share funding. Finally, Evelyn’s responsibilities will involve cost share flat rates, certifications, inspections, and periodic monitoring–all in an endeavor to conserve Maryland’s natural resources for future generations.


Reception for All New Students: August 20

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All students who are new to the Hood Graduate School for the Fall 2014 semester are invited to an orientation on Wednesday, August 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The informal welcome reception, to be held at Whitaker Campus Center, will provide an opportunity to meet faculty, staff and fellow students.

The agenda includes a campus tour, introduction to the bookstore and Apple computer lab, a welcome from Graduate School Dean Dr. Maria Green Cowles, and dinner with the program directors. Get the complete agenda and then RSVP here 

Masters Student Collaborates on Amphibian Study

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SalamanderA recent collaboration between Hood College and the Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources (OSER) examined how different land uses next to county wetlands can have a big impact on amphibian species. OSER collected the amphibian data and Environmental Biology Masters student Evelyn Michael analyzed the data. The research underscored that amphibian diversity is highest in wetlands surrounded by forest buffer.

Amphibians, which help control populations of pestiferous insects, utilize wetlands for breeding during spring and summer. The more amphibian species inhabiting a wetland infers that the ecosystem is healthy and stable.  Amphibians inhabit forests during the non-breeding season and utilize forests as migration corridors to travel to breeding wetland sites. A higher number of amphibian species found at wetlands adjacent to increased forest shows that these ecosystems are providing adequate habitat and migration routes for various amphibian species.