Environmental Biology and Conservation Major

Are you passionate about conserving our natural resources? Do you have an interest in working with wildlife? If you want to pursue a career working with nature — or if you’re inspired to leave the world a better place for future generations — the environmental biology and conservation major can provide you with the know-how to help people and nature coexist and thrive in an ever-changing world.

The environmental biology and conservation major prepares you for career opportunities in the environmental field, including conservation biology, natural resource management, environmental education, environmental toxicology, aquatic biology, water quality management, fisheries biology, wildlife ecology, and zoology.

Location is everything, and at Saint Mary’s, a diverse ecosystem is right in your backyard. The Winona Campus is nestled in the bluffs of the Mississippi River watershed in the Driftless Region with a hiking/skiing trail system and trout stream running through campus. Numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, ranging from state parks to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, are a short drive from campus. Here, learning about biodiversity is just as exciting as discovering it.

“Saint Mary’s has the perfect blend — valuable learning resources all around the campus and professors who take advantage of what those environments provide.”

- Klaüs Friedli ’21.


Are you also passionate about natural resources management, including wildlife ecology and forestry? The natural resources management minor can enhance your educational experience and broaden your career prospects. When you pursue the natural resources management minor, you’ll have the opportunity to intern with GeoSpatial Services (GSS), developing a dynamic spatial analysis skill set desired by employers and giving you the competitive edge as you enter the workforce.

What You'll Learn 

  • Demonstrate knowledge of a wide range of ecological and conservation topics, including biodiversity, evolution, aquatic and terrestrial ecology, population genetics, and spatial analysis.
  • Gain skill-building experience with a variety of field and lab methods.
  • Conduct ecological field-based and lab-based research.
  • Develop scientific literacy skills to interpret scientific reports.
  • Develop effective communication skills to report scientific findings.

Potential Careers

  • Conservation biologist
  • Ecologist/Field biologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Environmental educator 
  • Fisheries biologist
  • Water resources technician planner
  • Wildlife biologist

High School Preparation

Prepare for coursework by taking high school classes such as biology, chemistry, and/or environmental science. However, none of these courses are required in high school to study environmental biology and conservation at Saint Mary’s.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who major in environmental biology and conservation will often pursue a minor in natural resources management, chemistry, or zoology.

Environmental Biology Minor 

The environmental biology minor is an opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of ecological issues and to develop an appreciation for the environment. Majors the environmental biology complements include chemistry and business, especially for students interested in environmental policy and consulting.