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December 15, 2012

Miner Institute, PSU celebrate 40 years of joint program

CHAZY — A revolutionary environmental science program at SUNY Plattsburgh that was started 40 years ago graduated 21 students Friday.

It’s called the Applied Environmental Science Program, and it exists as a partnership between the college and William H. Miner Agricultural Institute.


In the program, upperclassmen majoring in environmental science at SUNY Plattsburgh spend a residential semester at Miner Institute in Chazy. The curriculum combines classroom and hands-on experience taught in a day-long format.

The five courses offered are wildlife ecology and management, hydrogeology, water-quality modeling, introduction to soil science, and agriculture and the environment.

“The Applied Environmental Science Program is successful because it extends beyond the classroom walls,” Joseph Thouin said Friday at a ceremony at the Joseph C. Burke Education and Research Center, which is named after a past president of Plattsburgh State and Miner Institute Board of Trustees chairman.

Thouin is an alumnus of the program, who graduated 10 years ago upon completion of four undergraduate research projects.

“The knowledge and skills that I acquired in this program were essential in my graduate studies and remain a part of the active skill set I use in my profession today,” said Thouin, who holds a master’s degree in hydrology from Dartmouth College and works for the Lake George Park Commission.


In his address at the ceremony, Burke illustrated the importance of learning by doing.

Years ago, when he was driving with his wife in northern Kentucky, he didn’t recognize tobacco, the crop that his master’s thesis was based on, he said.

Students spoke of how their hands-on learning will stay with them for years to come.

“Every class I’ve ever taken here is very intense,” said SUNY Plattsburgh senior Michelle Berrus.

The combination of field work and classroom time is “the best of both worlds,” she said.

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