Ohio University

Environmental Studies Certificate opens another door for undergrad double-major

As a goalie for Ohio University’s Division I field hockey team, senior Sophia Boothby knows how to keep her eye on the ball. 

Off the field, this laser-like focus has helped her juggle a double major in environmental biology and political science with the Voinovich School’s Undergraduate Environmental Studies Certificate plus positions on Student Senate and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

“She’s really taking advantage of this time of her life as an undergraduate and embracing all that she can,” said Loraine McCosker, the Voinovich School Environmental Studies certificate’s outreach coordinator and academic advisor.

Boothby learned about the certificate as a freshman, when she met with Ohio University professor Dr. Mathew White to discuss her interest in environmental policy and biology. White pointed her to the Voinovich School.

The certificate is available to students in any undergraduate major and requires a minimum of 18 credit hours spent in environmentally-themed courses across multiple disciplines.

Sophia Boothby headshot
Sophia Boothby

Boothby has enjoyed exploring the multifaceted offerings of Environmental Studies, from discussing the complex tradeoffs of environmental policies in Dr. Harold Perkins’ environmental geography class to collecting statistical data from birds and salamanders in field ecology with Dr. Kelly Williams. 

“We went outside and did a lot of field study which was really fun,” she said. “It helped me take all the classes that I’ve had at OU and apply them in a physical sense.” 

Her undergraduate experience with Voinovich’s environmental certificate program has helped Boothby understand the variety of career paths available in these fields.

“[The certificate] has opened a lot of opportunities and helped me realize that I don’t have to follow a straight path,” Boothby said. “I can get creative with my major while I’m here at OU and with my career and network with a whole range of different people.”

After graduation Boothby plans to join AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps before going back to school to study environmental law.

“[Before law school] I’d really like to travel and gain new experiences, but also apply things I’ve learned through my undergrad,” she said. 

With her environmental policy interest in mind, last spring Boothby met with McCosker to discuss her options for the certificate’s senior year capstone. She connected Boothby with Aimee Delach, the Athens-based senior policy analyst for Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation organization. This semester Boothby is Delach’s intern, which fulfills her capstone requirement.

“She is getting great experience working with Aimee, who’s an incredibly skilled policy person,” McCosker said. “Internships are the way people get the experiences that help formulate what they want to be and do. I see it all the time.”

As an intern, Boothby reads and analyzes national wildlife refuges’ plans to combat climate change. She grades the plans and sends the information to Delach.

“The grade is whether they mention climate change, how specifically, and if they’re actually preparing for it,” Boothby said.

The lessons from a lifetime of team sports come in handy everywhere, from her internship to the Student Senate floor.

“In Senate, I’m always working on a team,” Boothby said. “My coaches have helped me understand that I can be a leader but also have leaders above me.”

She expects field hockey will always be a part of her life, whether that means playing on an adult league or coaching kids somewhere down the line. In the meantime, Boothby has work to do.

“I’m really excited to start my career and focus on what I want to do and change my little part of the world,” she said.