Pueblo Hall

Moving forward in uncertain times

By Bill Knief

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It seems as if fall enrollment just ended at UNM-Taos and we’re already putting together the spring schedule of classes, midterms are a thing of the past and everyone is looking forward to the big move out to the Klauer campus with a mixture of giddy excitement and downright dread. Thanksgiving looms on the horizon and with it the first push to register students for spring 2010 classes. 2010, could that be right? Where did the time go?

This year, with increasing enrollment and decreasing resources due to budget deficits at the state level, the game has gotten a whole lot more interesting. Classes are getting larger, although they are nowhere near the size of university courses. The college has a no new hires policy, core curriculum courses rule, and the upcoming legislative session is anticipated with no excitement and a considerable amount of dread.

But life goes on, and with it, education. After having been shut down for years while the infrastructure at Klauer caught up with construction, Pueblo Hall is right on schedule for occupancy in January. And after years of waiting, it looks like we’ll be seeing the big blue buses pulling onto UNM-Taos turf in the near future.

There are still unique educational opportunities to be had out there. Richard Niemeyer, head of the Academy of Sciences and Environmental Studies, is looking for applicants for two exceptional programs.

The first is an internship that pays qualified UNM-Taos students ten dollars an hour, 20 hours per week working in a STEM related agency. Stem stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. If a student is interested in a career related to STEM, is on a pre-science track and has a 2.5 grade point average, he or she is immediately eligible if placement can be found in the area of the student’s interest. Students can earn up to $800 per month while gaining valuable career experience.

The second internship is a cooperative agreement between UNM-Taos and the National Park Service. “These internships are highly desired and sought after,” Niemeyer explained. “Students are trained for familiarity with the national forests and its philosophy and policies, and then are placed for a summer in a national park. This allows students to learn national resource management skills in the National Park Service as a federal employee.

“We start interns off in the Operations Division so they can get a feel for how a national park operates, and then if they come back, as many do, in subsequent years they can take jobs in other program areas such as national resource management, law enforcement, cultural resource management, interpretation—whatever area they are interested in. When they are finished they will be able to take a full time job and start a career track.

“It’s a great program. It enables students to get a broader picture of the world, themselves and some of the experiences out there outside Taos. I encourage all students that have the mobility and flexibility to work in a park away from their home for the summer to take a hard look at this program and see if it would fit their career interests.

“The Park Service in particular is interested in replacing federal employees who are retiring. The federal work force has gotten greyer and older, and within the next three years some 60 percent of National Park Service personnel are expected to retire. The same holds true for the Forest Service, BLM and other resource agencies. What that means is that there is a huge void in national resource agencies that they’re going to have to fill with young people; if a student has an interest in a career in federal service, this is the time to do it. My cell is 505 660-6125. You can email me at rsniemeyer@gmail.com. Or else you can just walk in and find me at UNM-Taos. I’m at 115 Civic Plaza Drive.”

About The Bill Knief