VCU Biologial Study

Graduates prepare for careers in river management after receiving national River Studies & Leadership Certificate

Seventeen students from across the country are well prepared for careers in river management and conservation after graduating with the River Studies & Leadership Certificate (RSLC) in the 2019-2020 academic year. The certificate is awarded by the River Management Society (RMS) after students complete rigorous interdisciplinary coursework and service, demonstrating a promising interest in river-based science, policy, conservation, education and recreation. RSLC students demonstrate real-world application of their knowledge and skills through professional experience or an internship with a river project.

“We are thrilled to congratulate these students for their passion and determination,” said Linda Jalbert, River Management Society President. “This certification program is an opportunity for students to develop the knowledge and technical skills necessary for future careers in river management, and it also enables them to network and collaborate with industry professionals. It plays a vital role in developing capacity for the diverse careers available in river management. We are so proud of these students and their advisors for cultivating a love of rivers for generations to come."

In total, 25 students have received this certificate. Several have begun careers in fields such as aquatic science, fisheries management, hydrology, geographic information systems (GIS), and outdoor recreation.

Virginia Commonwealth University advisor James Vonesh, PhD, said the program has also helped students to network within their universities and at the national level. He said his students, and those at other participating universities, have a sense of comradery that has helped develop and fund initiatives within their RSLC programs which have immediately impacted rivers in their regions and created opportunities for future RSLC students.

“The certificate is a great way for students to focus their interests and gain credentials around the study and management of rivers,” said Vonesh. “It is better than a minor or university certificate because it brings connections to the professional world that students will need as they begin their careers. I like that it is rooted in practical skills like GIS and swiftwater safety. These are highly marketable and go beyond pure "booksmarts."

2019-2020 River Studies & Leadership Certificate Recipients

Northern Arizona University
Advisor: Denielle Perry, PhD

  • Katie Guetz
  • James Major
  • Maddie Smith
  • Riley Swanson
  • Sarah E. Smith
  • Rob George

Prescott College
Advisor: Mathieu Brown, MS

  • Nattie Marshall

Virginia Commonwealth University
Advisor: James Vonesh, PhD

  • Reid Anderson
  • Richie Dang
  • Jacob Korona
  • Katie Schmidt  
  • Ryland Stunkle
  • Tom Tedesco

Western Washington University
Advisors: Tammi Lanninga, PhD and John McLaughlin, PhD

  • Caelan Johnson
  • Colter Lemons
  • Celida Moran
  • Alexandra Trejo

RSLC is available at the following universities: Northern Arizona University, Prescott College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Sierra Nevada University, Western Washington University, Colorado Mesa University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, University of Utah and Western Carolina University. RMS is excited to expand the program to more universities and encourages advisors to learn more and get involved by visiting the RSLC web page.  

Regardless of participation in the RSLC program, undergraduate and graduate students in all universities are encouraged to join the River Management Society, which includes access to regional river trips, workshops, symposium discounts, networking opportunities with river professionals, and regular updates on RMS and partner news.