Natural Resources

The Natural Resources Program at Mount Wachusett Community College provides students with the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree in Natural Resources.   Upon completion of the program, students are prepared for technical positions in environmental occupations and/or transfer to a four-year institution for a baccalaureate degree. During the course of study, students will develop skills, competencies and knowledge of practical plant and animal sciences, forestry, structure and function of ecosystems, greenhouse management, principles of soils as they relate to biological systems, geographical information systems, and environmental chemistry.  Students will also complete a practicum that will give them real-world experience in an area of their interest.

Natural Resources Degree (NRD)

Natural resources covers a range of environmental occupations in the horticulture/floriculture, agriculture, forestry, and recycling fields. Because of a emerging appreciation and heightened awareness of the nation’s natural resources, opportunities in these fields are growing. The Natural Resources degree program provides students with a variety of environmentally-oriented subjects. MWCC offers the perfect setting by providing hundreds of acres of undeveloped plant communities and forested areas, two pond ecosystems, and a life studies center consisting of a greenhouse, potting area, and lecture facility.

Year 1
ENG 101College Writing I 3
MAT 126Topics In Mathematics (or higher) 13-4
BIO 116Ecology 4
BIO 102Introduction To Forestry 4
ENG 102College Writing II 3
BIO 140Introduction To Greenhouse Management 4
BIO 120Horticulture 4
EAS 130Fundamentals of Geospatial Technologies 3
Year 2
BIO 130Plant Science 4
CHE 120Environmental Chemistry 4
NRD Professional Elective (see list below)  4
Humanities Elective 2 3
BIO 122Zoology: The Biology Of Animals 4
BIO 220Soil Science 4
NRD 232Global Environmental Issues (Capstone Course) 3
NRD 220Practicum In Natural Resources 3-4
Social Science Elective 3 3
 Total Credits: 60-62

MAT 162 Introduction to Functions & Modeling (Formerly MAT 134) or higher recommended for transfer.


Humanities Electives: See Elective Courses by Abbreviation.  
SPC 113 Speech (formerly THE113) recommended.


Social Science Electives: See Elective Courses by Abbreviation.

NRD Professional Electives

BIO 104Introduction To Natural Resource Conservation4
BIO 141Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture4
BIO 145Introduction to Field Biology4
EAS 125Physical Geology of the Earth4
EAS 126Weather and Climate4
EGM 104Renewable Energy Sources4

See Natural Resources program student learning outcomes and technical standards.

Helpful hints

Since the Natural Resources program is a rigorous curriculum in the sciences, students who have taken previous high school or college science courses or have a background in the sciences will be best prepared. Also, since the focus of the curriculum is on plant science, an interest in horticulture and plant biology is recommended.

Transfer options

For transfer options, please click here. It is recommended that you also consult with your academic advisor.

Special requirements

A 120-hour practicum is required. Technical standards must be met with or without accommodations.

Career options/Earning potential

For career options, please click here.

Program Student Learning Outcomes for NRD

Upon graduation from this program, students shall have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Apply mathematical models, including algebra, to natural resources concepts and models.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of ecological principles.
  • Use computer technology as it applies to biology,  natural resources principles, and geographical information systems .
  • Analyze soil samples for pH, chemicals, growth potential, etc.
  • Sample water and air, analyze data, report in proper format, and determine cause of abnormal data.
  • Analyze growth requirements of a variety of animal types.
  • Organize and apply knowledge applicable to management of a greenhouse.
  • Employ principles of plant science and pathology to greenhouse procedures and forestry management.
  • Exhibit employment skills applicable to a variety of technician level titles.

Technical Standards1 for NRD


For general information about technical standards and accommodation, see Technical Standards.

Students entering this program must be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Comprehend textbook material at the 11th grade level.
  • Communicate and assimilate information either in spoken, printed, signed, or computer voice format.
  • Gather, analyze, and draw conclusions from data.
  • Complete repetitive tasks such as transplanting and trimming while maintaining attention to detail.
  • Work at tasks with minimum supervision and with constant awareness of the development of impending problems, such as insect/mold infestations.
  • Purchase, store, apply, and properly dispose of materials such as fertilizers and pesticides, with regard to the law and with respect.
  • Work as part of a team in areas often cramped for space such as greenhouse workstations.
  • Function well in outdoor natural settings such as bogs/swamps while dressed in suitable/uncomfortable gear and under less than ideal conditions of temperature, moisture, and insects.
  • Possess an adequate level of physical dexterity and strength to lift/maneuver bags of soil/fertilizer and to properly and safely operate equipment such as saws, sprayers, and trimmers.


NRD 220. Practicum In Natural Resources. 3-4 Credit.

The practicum experience allows students practice in a field specific to their interest and based upon strengths of the curriculum. The practicum, developed and defined in cooperation with faculty, department chair, the student, and the practicum supervisor, requires a 10-15 hours per week commitment above and beyond other required coursework. The practicum experience will be monitored with regular progress updates and then detailed and summarized by the student at the conclusion. Possible practicum experiences may include, but are not limited to, working within one of the agricultural, environmental, nonprofit, or regional planning agencies, private industries, cities/towns, or educational institutions in the surrounding region. Prerequisites: Completion of at least 4 of the following courses: BIO 102, BIO 104, BIO 116, BIO 120, BIO 122, BIO 130, BIO 140, BIO 141, BIO 145, BIO 220, CHE 120, EAS 125, EAS 126, EGM 104.

NRD 232. Global Environmental Issues (Capstone Course). 3 Credits.

This is a capstone course typically taken in the last semester before graduating after most or all of the NRD major courses have been successfully completed. This course is a study of environmental issues from both global and local perspectives. In this course students will research the major environmental issues, taking into account the ecological principles, cultural impact, economic factors, and political controversies that shape each problem. Students will compare the environmental impact of these issues in Massachusetts and in a variety of countries, cultures, and ecosystems. As a capstone course, students will be expected to demonstrate mastery and integration of previous NRD major coursework, both in written assignments and class discussions. Prerequisites:Completion of at least 4 of the following courses: BIO 102, BIO 104, BIO 116, BIO 120, BIO 122, BIO 130, BIO 140, BIO 141, BIO 145, BIO 220, CHE 120, EAS 125, EAS 126, EGM 104, or permission of division dean. Spring.