Student Stories: Environmental major experiences the Alps

Environmental resource management might sound like a white-collar desk job to most, but to Tyler Yost, it is much more. Last summer he studied abroad in Germany, where he had the opportunity to put his Penn State education to practical use.

"I'd taken a few German language classes, I wanted to study abroad and it just happened to work out that there was a program in Freiburg," said the senior from Etters, Pa. "It was a good fit for me."

For an environmental resource management major, there are few better places to study. Freiburg is considered the greenest city in Germany, with progressive views on environmental practice and energy conservation.

Yost's coursework included a study of human impact on the environment in the Swiss Alps, during which he went on a three-day study tour in the mountains.

"There were a lot of hands-on things in the program, which I really liked," he said. "Almost all of the classes involved a lot of excursions, field trips and field training."

During his hike in the Alps, Yost witnessed areas damaged by forest fires and had a chance to see the impact firsthand. The class visited a forest-regeneration station, where Swiss researchers experimented to find strains of trees that grew fastest for future plantings.

"I took a soils class, which was similar to soils classes here, but we worked in soil pits out in the Black Forest," he said. "There was also a forestry class in which we were assigned a stand in the forest, and we had to develop a management plan for it. It was interesting.

"We got to see how things work in the real world, so that was a good experience."

When he wasn't studying forest regeneration or soils, Yost was traveling through Europe. "We went to many vineyards and did wine tastings," he said. "They use really progressive techniques in the vineyards -- green mulching, limited applications of pesticides, enhanced water-conservation techniques, things like that."

The trip provided Yost with not only great memories, but practical, real-world experience. In the future, he plans to return to Germany to earn a master's degree in environmental studies.

"Studying there was kind of daunting at the beginning, but after getting adjusted, it was an amazing experience."

Learn more about the Environmental Resource Management major.

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Last Updated June 03, 2013