Graduate Student Spotlight | Christopher Burch

Christopher Burch

"With most of the classes offered at night, and even some online, the Hood College program was perfect! It was flexible with my work schedule. It was close to home. It had all the courses I wanted to take, and best of all, the price was very affordable compared to any of the other schools I explored."

Christopher Burch, M.S. Environmental Biology

Program

  • Environmental Biology (M.S.)
  • Geographic Information Systems (C)

Department

  • Biology

Christopher Burch is currently enrolled in Hood College's master's of Environmental Biology program. Christopher currently works for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and was awarded the Melville H. Cohee Student Leader Conservation Scholarship in 2021. 

We spoke with Christopher to learn more about his time in the Environmental Biology department, and the process for applying to the Melville H. Cohee Student Leader Conservation Scholarship.

Why did you choose Hood College?

While I always dreamed of obtaining a Master’s degree, I just never knew when, where, how, or even what to get it in. After graduating with my previous degrees, life just kind of got in the way.

Between starting a career, having a family and trying to build a home somewhere, it just never seemed there was any time, or even money to put towards it. Now that I’m at a point in my life where things have finally settled down some, plus the fact that I’m not getting any younger, I can see the applicable value of getting an advanced degree.

I heard about the Environmental Biology program at Hood College. I called the school for more information and amazingly discovered this program was tailored for people just like me. With most of the classes offered at night, and even some online, the Hood College program was perfect! It was flexible with my work schedule. It was close to home. It had all the courses I wanted to take, and best of all, the price was very affordable compared to any of the other schools I explored.

After all of these years, the pieces of the puzzle had finally come together. I now knew when, where, how and what I definitely wanted to get my graduate degree in. I was coming to Hood College!

What do you enjoy most about being at Hood College?

I really enjoy the classes I am taking at Hood College the most. As someone currently working in the industry these courses are geared toward, I can attest they are totally applicable to the work I do every day.

There is a lot of flexibility in the program too, where I can choose courses I’d like to learn more about and I’m not just limited to a rigid list of courses I have to complete.

How do you think it does or will help you in your career and life?

Having my master’s degree from Hood College will continue to open many more doors and amazing opportunities for me in the future, just as my bachelor’s has done in the past.

Whether that leads to advancement in positions of leadership in my current career, or steers me towards a path of collegiate/environmental teaching, either way it will be a tremendous, beneficial step in the right direction. Already, it has provided a wealth of new knowledge I apply every day.

It has increased my self-confidence, and it is accomplishing lifelong goals I always dreamed to achieve.

Congratulations on receiving the Melville H. Cohee Student Leader Conservation Scholarship from the Soil and Water Conservation Society! Describe the process of applying for the scholarship and what it means to you.

Thank you! I was the only one in the nation to receive this award and will be recognized at the Annual International Conference for the Soil and Water Conservation Society later this summer. I was also blessed to receive a GROWMARK Foundation scholarship too. I was honored to be selected as one of only 15 students from across the United States and Canada to receive this award for my fall semester as well.

Both scholarships are open to students pursuing agricultural or environmentally based degrees. The process involves completing an application and creatively answering as much as five selected essay questions, in about 500 words each. Independent panels of agribusiness and natural resource professionals then evaluate applications.

They additionally scrutinize the background information of all candidates, assessing academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, community involvement, and commitment to the environment and agriculture.

Being awarded these scholarships has an even more profound impact on me. They will completely pay for my summer and fall semester at Hood College, alleviating financial burdens while serving as an amazing positive reinforcement to reward the work I have done in the community throughout the years.

Any other fun facts that you would like to add?

As a past State President of the Maryland FFA, I later served for 8 years as the youngest, and longest Chairman of the Maryland FFA Association Board of Directors. For the leadership I provided, I was awarded with the highest honor bestowed on a person in the organization - an Honorary American Degree. In addition to this, I designed the current logo of the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association, and I am also an Eagle Scout.

Inspired by Christopher’s story and ready to #GOFURTHER in your career? Learn about Hood College’sgraduate programs, including the Environmental Biology masters and GIS certificate programs, by clicking here.