The Natural Resources Management (NRM) program was initiated in 1974 by Dr. Warren Whitman (1911-1994) of the then Range Science Unit in the Botany Department of the College of Science & Mathematics and Dr. Enoch Norum (1909-1998) Leader of the Soils Section in the Agronomy Department, currently the Plant Sciences Department in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources. NRM was initially presented as an interdisciplinary graduate program offering a Master of Science (MS) degree. In these early years of NRM, the main focus was on Biotic Resource Sciences and Soil / Earth Sciences including an association with Agricultural Economics.
Dr. Whitman actively served at NDSU from 1938 to 1976, where he is remembered as: “The father of Range Science in North Dakota.” He was named full professor of Botany in 1951. From 1963 to 1967 he served as the Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and from 1972 to 1976 he served as the Chair of the Department of Botany. Although Dr. Whitman officially retired from NDSU in 1976, he was actively involved and continued his research until 1993.
Dr. Norum actively served at NDSU from 1947 to 1975. When the Soils Section was designated a department in 1959, Dr. Norum became Chair of the Department of Soil Science where he served from 1959 to 1975.
In 1974, Dr. Harold Goetz was appointed Director of NRM at which time he was also serving as the Director of Tri-College University Center of Environmental Studies. Dr. Goetz joined NDSU in 1964 where he served as a Range Scientist in the Department of Botany, becoming Department Chair from 1976 to 1985. Dr. Goetz left NDSU in 1985 to assume the position of Chair in the Range Science Department at Colorado State University.
The first graduate of the NRM Master of Science program was Dr. Jay Leitch who completed his MS in NRM in 1976, completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota, and later became NRM Program Director in 1985. While Dr. Leitch was Director of NRM the undergraduate program was initiated in 1994, as an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science (BS) program. The initial idea for an undergraduate program in NRM was suggested by Dr. Arthur Boe, of the then Horticulture Department, in the College of Agriculture, during the early 1990’s. The idea for an undergraduate degree was eventually developed under the directorship of Dr. Leitch (Department of Agricultural Economics) and the NRM Coordinating Committee. The NRM Undergraduate Program broadened its interdisciplinary structure by officially establishing three emphasis areas: Biotic Resource Sciences, Soils / Earth Sciences, and Social Sciences. During 1997 Dr. Leitch assumed the position of Interim Dean of the College of Business, he would accept the position of Dean of the College in 1999.
Current NRM Program Director, Dr. Carolyn Grygiel, was appointed in 1998. The program was housed in the then Department of Animal & Range Sciences, because Dr. Grygiel was a faculty member in the department. At the time, NRM was a small, virtual program, but with the leadership of Dr. Grygiel, support of the NRM Coordinating Committee, Department Chair of Animal & Range Sciences, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, & Natural Resources, and the University Provost, NRM would undergo several degrees of evolution, change, and development toward becoming the internationally recognized interdisciplinary program it is today.
Upon assuming the NRM Program Directorship, Dr. Grygiel’s immediate priorities were: (1) student recruitment to increase program enrollment; (2) curriculum enhancement. Student recruitment and program growth was greatly enhanced by development of the first NRM webpage that was designed and webmastered by Dr. Grygiel and placed on-line in December of 1998. Since that time, the NRM webpage has undergone a series of revisions and updates.
NRM total student enrollment from 1994 to 2011. The lowering of student enrollment in 2007-2008 was a reflection of an exceptionally high number of graduates for that time period.
A new emphasis area (Pollution Science) was developed in 1998 and incorporated into the NRM program in 1999. This emphasis always reflected our lowest student enrollment and it was decided that it was mis-named and as such, made an internet search difficult. The name of this emphasis was changed in 2008 to: Pollution Control. Within a few weeks of the name change three new students enrolled in this emphasis area.
The first NRM staff member was hired in 2001. Sharon Hilber joined NRM as the NRM Program Assistant. The year 2001 also marked the year of the first NRM Program Review.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree in NRM was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2002. The PhD Program has graduated six students since 2002.
The School of Natural Resources was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2004. The concept was developed and the School of Natural Resources was founded by Dr. Carolyn Grygiel.
The second NRM staff member was hired in 2004. Gretchen Bromley joined NRM as the Student Services Coordinator.
A new emphasis area, Environmental Communications, was added and two new emphasis delineations were designated separating Social Sciences and Natural Resources Economics.
Highlights for the next four years were as follows:
- Dr. Jay Leitch retires from his position as Dean of the College of Business and re-joins NRM as a half-time faculty in 2005.
- 2006: First “10” Assessment Score.
- 2007: Second “10” Assessment Score; Sharon (Hilber) Shanilac retires in 2007.
- Barbara Magnusson joins NRM as the new NRM Program Assistant in 2007.
- Range Science, Soil Science, and Entomology agree to merge with NRM in the School of Natural Resources.
- The School was renamed School of Natural Resource Sciences in 2008.
- 2008: Third “10” assessment score
- The second NRM Program review was written and presented in 2008.
Jack Norland, Ph.D., became the first NRM designated full-time faculty member. Dr. Norland joined NRM in July 2008.
Christina L.M. Hargiss, Ph.D., joined the School of Natural Resource Sciences as an NRM designated faculty in November 2010.