UCC faculty helped Cris Salazar to discover and pursue his passion in Conservation Biology.
Growing up in Douglas County included some rough patches for Cris Salazar. Although he appreciated the natural beauty around him, a "less than stellar" high school experience left him with little hope for meaningful and reliable employment in the area. Realizing that an education was the best way out for him, Cris enrolled at UCC's Woolley Center, caught up on his studies, and earned his High School diploma. He was mentored there by Prof. André Jacob, who saw his potential and encouraged him to go on to UCC.
Cris followed Andre's advice and enrolled. He found the campus tucked along the North Umpqua River to be "scenic and relaxing" as he pursued a range of classes toward his Associate of Arts degree. "I was able to take a variety of courses enabling me to find out what type of education I felt would give me a chance to broaden my job opportunities and find a career I could truly enjoy." While taking the Principles of Biology series, "Dr. Ken Carloni brought to my attention that biology was not only a passion of mine but a viable career. He helped to foster the idea of conservation biology and its associated career paths." Cris became determined to gain his Associate of Arts degree from UCC and to transfer to Oregon State University to finish a Bachelors of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife.
Cris earned that Associate's degree in 2011 and then earned his Bachelor's degree from OSU in 2014 with a focus on Fisheries Conservation. He says, "UCC not only allowed me to find my niche but has spiraled me into a career working for federal agencies aiming to protect, monitor, and recover native fish populations. From Alaska to northern California I have worked with fisheries researchers and managers from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and currently, Crater Lake National Park. None of this seemed possible until I made the decision to enroll at UCC and find out what 'getting an education' meant. And for me, it means getting a chance to travel, hike, camp, survey, electrofish, and snorkel all for the benefit of native fish and wildlife, as well as my own."
Cris' advice to prospective students is this: "To those considering taking courses at UCC but unsure what type of education or career they really want to pursue, I say get out there and try something new! Taking courses in areas of study you are unfamiliar with or not currently interested in can trigger things hard to imagine without the exposure."
UCC has a new Associate Degree in Natural Resources. Get involved in an exciting career that helps conserve the earth's important biological resources.
Photos: Cris Salazar at Crater Lake National Park (Top), Credit: Cris Salazar; Cris Salazar takes water level measurements in the field. (Right), Credit: Cris Salazar.
Bryan Benz - Contact
Assistant Professor, Science
André Jacob - Contact
Associate Professor, Adult Basic Skills