Graduate Student Spotlight | Chris Burch
"I was looking for a school that was close to home and would have classes after work. My advisers at Hood College said that the program was tailored for that, so it was perfect for me. All the classes they were offering could be used in my work every day. The price was really affordable too. The knowledge I have gained has been very helpful."
Chris Burch, M.S. Environmental Biology
- Environmental Biology (M.S.)
Chris Burch is a current student in Hood College's M.S. in environmental biology program. Outside of Hood, Chris is currently employed at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, focusing on soil conservation. Previously, Chris worked at the National Aquarium and Hagerstown Community College. He also served as president of Future Farmers of America. Chris earned his A.A. in fish and wildlife management from Frederick Community College and his B.S. in fisheries and biology at Frostburg University. Chris hopes to graduate from Hood in 2023.
What made you choose Hood College?
I was looking for a school that was close to home and would have classes after work. My advisers at Hood College said that the program was tailored for that, so it was perfect for me. All the classes they were offering could be used in my work every day. The price was really affordable too. The knowledge I have gained has been very helpful.
How did you receive your two scholarships?
One was from the Delmarva Chicken Association—designed to advance the field of poultry science. A lot of the stuff I do at my normal job and at Hood could contribute to that. I was learning about soil ecology, which can be applied to poultry farms and the manure they create. With my job, I travel all over the state and the Eastern Shore.
The second was from the Soil and Water Conservation Society. For that scholarship, I had to be part of their society. I thought they would be a good group to join. The Donald A. Williams Scholarship was looking for somebody who was working in the field of soil conservation to return to school for a master’s degree.
What is it like working for the Maryland Department of Agriculture?
We are trying to save the Chesapeake Bay by meeting with local farmers and seeing if there are any problems in their land. This includes stream restoration and planting forests. We are trying to reduce pollution caused by nutrient runoff from farms.
We get grant money for farmers to take care of their land. This is also done sometimes for regular landowners. So far, I have given out about $10M in grants.
How has attending Hood College helped with your environmental biology work and studies?
Going here has been great because all of the classes I have taken have applied to my work. The soil conservation classes have directly related to my work. The GIS classes, which focus on satellite mapping, can also tie into my work with land.
So far, what have you enjoyed the most about Hood College?
The staff have been great. A lot of them work in the field of whatever they are teaching in, so they bring practical knowledge to their courses. The topics that are covered and the background that the staff brings have been my favorite aspects about the College.
Do you have a favorite memory about Hood or any other comments you would like to add?
My first actual experience at the student orientation. I had expected a standard orientation about my classes and where I would go. They ended up having a dinner for us and gave us memorabilia from the College to take home.
It was cool because it was my first introduction to the College, and it left a good impression on me. I have recommended the school to other people and got two other people to attend Hood College. I tell everybody about the school.