Outdoor educational experiences are some of the most memorable events in lifelong learning. Educational research shows that nature experiences can help children, even those with learning challenges, to focus and retain knowledge better during outdoor studies.

Ecological education occurs in a broad range of venues, including outdoor educational facilities such as nature centers, botanical gardens or nature camps. But ecological education also occurs in locations such as museums of natural history, aquaria, zoos, private nature preserves and county, state or national parks. Teachers in K-12 schools fulfill the role of ecological educators, especially when they take students outside for learning experiences.

Ecology students seeking a career in ecological education should have two main areas of study. They need to develop an expertise in natural history, becoming skilled in the identification of organisms commonly encountered outside, such as plants, insects and birds. The second area is a broad understanding of how human activities influence the environment. This includes climate change, habitat loss and degradation, and pollution. Knowledge of environmental issues also must include positive actions that people can take to improve the environment. Ecological education emphasis students are strongly encouraged to participate in field programs such as the UGA Costa Rica program in Tropical Biology or field courses at the Georgia coast and Florida Keys.


Internships are strongly recommended for students. There are opportunities at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, State Botanical Garden, Sandy Creek Nature Center and many other locations statewide. Interns gain practical skills that prepare students for careers.

For students who want to become educators in public schools, additional formal coursework in a college of education and teacher certification is required. Private schools vary in whether they require formal course work and certification.

Major Core
  • ECOL 3400 Professional Development for Careers in Ecology
  • ECOL 3500/3500L Ecology
  • ECOL 4000 Population and Community Ecology (preferred) or ECOL 4150/4150L Population Biology of Infectious Disease
  • ECOL 4010 Ecosystem Ecology or ECOL 4310/4310L Freshwater Ecosystems
  • ECOL 4240/4240L Physiological Ecology or ECOL 4540 Behavioral Ecology
  • ECOL 4500 Evolutionary Ecology
  • ECOL 4950 Senior Seminar
  • STAT 2000 Introduction to Statistics or BIOS 2010 Elementary Biostatistics
Natural History Requirement (choose 1)*
  • ECOL 3600 Tropical Ecology: From Organisms to Ecosystems
  • ECOL 4050/4050L Ichthyology
  • ECOL 4280/4280L Coral Reef Ecology
  • ENTO 3140/3140L Insect Natural History
  • PBIO 4650/4650L Plant Taxonomy
  • WILD 4040/4040L Herpetology
  • WILD(ECOL) 4060 Ornithology
Methods and Skills Requirement (choose 1)*
  • ECOL 3510 Ecology Laboratory
  • ECOL 4130L Ecological Methodology
  • ECOL 4940 Internship
  • ECOL 4960 Research
  • FANR 3800/3800L Spatial Analysis of Natural Resources and Laboratory
Major Electives (choose 4 courses)*
  • ANTH(PBIO) 4300/4300L – Ethnobotany
  • BIOL(WILD) 3700 Animal Behavior
  • ECOL 3100/3100L Tropical Field Ecology
  • ECOL 3220 Biology and Conservation of Marine Mammals
  • ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology
  • ECOL 4261 Natural History Museum Internship
  • EETH 4220 Environmental Ethics or other courses from the Natural History Requirement list

*This is not an exhaustive list; please see the UGA Bulletin for more options.