WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University has a longstanding reputation for its quality education, Extension work and efforts to conserve natural resources in the state.

The department celebrated its centennial in September 2013. Student, faculty and staff are continually working to improve the land and water of Indiana.

“The department focuses largely on the sustainable management of natural resources,” said Julie Pluimer, academic adviser in the department.

“We have roughly 260 undergraduate students and currently offer four majors — fisheries and aquatic sciences, wildlife, forestry and wood products manufacturing technology. The majority of our graduates are hired by state and federal agencies, like the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.”

Students learn to manage habitats and keep plant and animal populations sustainable.

Those studying forestry can focus on the more traditional aspects of managing forested tracts of land all the way to a newer niche, urban forestry. Fisheries and aquatic sciences majors learn to manage fish populations in freshwater systems.

In addition to bachelor of science degrees, the department also offers master’s and doctorate degrees.

A large amount of Extension work also is conducted in the department.

“Purdue is a land-grant institution, so one of our charges is to take the cutting-edge research conducted here and translate it for homeowners, landowners and growers,” Pluimer said. “We want to use the results of the department research to make positive impacts in the daily lives of Indiana residents.”

Every major within the department is associated with a student organization, giving students plenty of extracurricular options. The department hosts student chapters of the Society of American Foresters, the Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society, to name a few.

“In addition to social interaction, the clubs give students opportunities to gain skills that they can list on a resume and network with professionals and alumni,” Pluimer said.

Students in the department are bound by one thing: Their common love for nature.

“We get a lot of students that come in and say, ‘I want to work outside,’” Pluimer said. “Students with an interest in natural science and the outdoors would be a good fit for our majors.”

The job market can be competitive for some of graduates, she said, but the department provides opportunities to prepare students for employment.

“Another common theme throughout our curricula is being good stewards of the land,” she said.

This is something farmers and graduates have in common.

“We’re teaching students to protect those resources that are so important,” Pluimer said. “Many majors in the College of Agriculture focus broadly on producing food for a growing population. We focus specifically on how to manage our natural resources.”