New wildlife major, financial course aim to fill program voids

A new major that highlights growth in an industry and a class focusing on financial planning are just some of the newest offerings as part of K-State’s constantly evolving curriculum.

A major in wildlife and outdoor enterprise management will be the first of its kind, said Tom Warner, professor of horticulture, forestry and recreation and program director.

“It’s unlike standalone natural resources or fish and wildlife programs,” he said. “It combines the two, and the students will also have a minor in business.

“They will also take courses in hotel and restaurant management. They also have outdoor skills courses that are unique. It’s a unique program; we’re the first ones.”

Warner said the program started developing after leaders in the hunting and fishing industry made inquiries about putting a degree together. The Kansas Board of Regents’ approved the new program in May, after a it went through a two-year development process. The program, which will only accept new students in the fall, already has 14 students enrolled in its inaugural year.

While combining courses from an accumulation of other disciplines, several new courses were developed strictly for this major. Warner and industry professionals will instruct those courses. In addition to the new curriculum, internships with the program will run from the summer after a student’s junior year until the completion of the following fall semester.

Students who complete the program will be trained as business managers of hunting and fishing reserves. Warner said the program’s focus on training students to be business managers in the private sector is one-of-a-kind.

“It’s filling a void that no one else has filled,” he said.

Students looking to improve their financial literacy can enroll in Money 101, or FSHS101.

Joyce Cantrell, instructor in family studies and human services, said the course was added in response to discussions with student leadership and former Provost Duane Nellis about the need for students to become more financially literate.

“The goal is to reach freshmen and sophomores before they encounter financial difficulties,” she said. “Students come to the university with loans, grants and scholarships. All of a sudden you are handling large sums of money.

“Unless you have a good handle on what you need versus what you want, it’s very easy to overspend.”

In Money 101, which is offered as an eight-week online course, students study credit and debit. They examine budgets and establish budgets as well as spending habits. Students are also asked to create spending goals. Examinations of what makes up credit reports, how to build credit and studying investments are also aspects of the course.

Cantrell also incorporates a variety of video clips to the class.

“We use Spendster.org, and it has video clips of people and the worthless stuff they spend money on,” she said. “That’s kind of fun.

“We do visit a lot of videos about people who are college-aged and have had financial difficulties hopefully to help the students avoid the pitfalls that these students fell into.”

Cantrell said she hopes the information from the class carries over after the class has ended.

“I’m hoping by using the Internet and showing them different Web sites and examining the information, that taking the class will be a life-long benefit, not just a short-term benefit,” she said.