When today’s farmers and ranchers need help with their farmland, they count on conservation scientists. To help resolve problems with soil conservation or range management, working in this field often means literally working in a field! Conservation scientists usually start by analyzing how land use patterns contribute to problems identified by farmers, such as overgrazed rangeland, soil erosion, or a shortage of water reservoirs for cattle. These scientists review the results of lab work on soil samples. They record, analyze and map data to formulate plans that will correct problems without endangering the environment, for example using better plowing and planting methods. They must consider laws, costs, and the time required to achieve improvement. They may put their plan into action and monitor progress, or they may follow up with others who implement their plan. Like most jobs in scientific research, these scientists need to possess a healthy degree of curiosity, detailed knowledge of their field, and the discipline required for a trial and error approach to problems. While most conservation scientists hold a bachelor's degree, often in a natural science, a doctorate is required to lead research projects or to teach. Conservation scientists enjoy the challenge of giving nature a little extra help.


A general program that focuses on the studies and activities relating to the natural environment and its conservation, use, and improvement. Includes instruction in subjects such as climate, air, soil, water, land, fish and wildlife, and plant resources; in the basic principles of environmental science and natural resources management; and the recreational and economic uses of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.