Renee Connor, who graduated from UD's Natural Resource Management program, has been accepted to law school and will study environmental law.

Environmental lawyers

Natural Resource Management turns out law school students, legal professionals

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1:46 p.m., Aug. 7, 2012--Renee Connor had wanted to be a lawyer since high school and thanks to the University of Delaware’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) program, she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Connor has been accepted into the University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law. 

Connor, who graduated from UD in 2012 with a double major in NRM and political science, said that after figuring out that she wanted to pursue a career in law, she had to decide which branch of law she wanted to study. “When I looked into environmental law, that seemed like something I’d be really interested in,” she said, adding that it made sense to major in NRM to pursue a career in that field. 

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The NRM program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped Connor in many ways but she said that perhaps the most significant benefit was providing her with enriching and diverse coursework. “I took a lot of classes in different areas,” said Connor. “I took economics classes, science classes and policy classes, and I feel like it was a good major to prepare me for law school because you have to understand a wide range of topics to do environmental law.” 

Steve Hastings, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and at the Agricultural Experiment Center, said of Connor's acceptance into law school, “Renee was a very focused student who knew she wanted to be an attorney -- she worked hard to achieve that goal."

Hastings echoed Connor’s sentiments about the plethora of educational opportunities afforded to those who choose to major in NRM. 

“NRM is an excellent interdisciplinary major that exposes students to both physical and social sciences,” said Hastings. “It is this mix that makes it a great preparation for law school or graduate school in a variety of areas. In fact, which area to pursue is the hardest decision the students have to make."

Connor joins a number of NRM graduates who have gone on to law school and become lawyers. Among them is Kristen DeWire, a 2004 UD graduate who works as an assistant attorney general in the office of the attorney general in Maryland. Specifically, her role is to represent the Maryland Department of the Environment. 

DeWire said that she decided to study NRM at UD because of her love of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She also said that she thought she would be more successful in the policy side of environmental issues instead of “focusing on environmental science or environmental engineering.” 

She also enjoyed the fact that the NRM major would give her a diverse group of classes from which to choose. “Being able to do analysis and analytical writing through communications, economics and environmental law classes, and from internship experiences, was really helpful in terms of being able to think critically and analytically about applying theories to particular sets of facts, which is a lot of what legal practice is.” 

DeWire added that the science classes she took, from soil science to geology, provided her a head start when it comes to examining legal cases in those areas and the work has proven beneficial when talking with experts and preparing for cases.

DeWire also said that the small classes sizes, the excellent faculty and the “family environment” of CANR added a lot to her undergraduate experience. 

Internship opportunities

One thing that Connor and DeWire have in common is that they both took advantage of an internship opportunity while they were undergraduates in the NRM program. 

Connor worked at UD's Garden for the Community, an internship she said she really enjoyed because it gave her a hands-on experience working outdoors. 

DeWire had two internships during her time at UD, both sponsored by CANR’s Delaware Water Resources Center. The first involved working on a paper focusing on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the federal jurisdiction over wetlands in Delaware, and the second involved her working at the Water Resources Agency (WRA) surveying a stream running through UD’s campus and making recommendations for restoration. 

Article by Adam Thomas

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