How I chose my major: Forest and Rangeland Stewardship

A student measures the diameter of a tree in a Rocky Mountain forest

In the “How I chose my major” series, we showcase the academic paths CSU students have taken, and students tell their stories in their own words. Read on to meet Emma, a CSU Forest and Rangeland Stewardship major, and learn how she decided it was the perfect path for her college career and far beyond.

I’ll be honest with you, Colorado State University wasn’t initially on my list of schools (spoiler: applying was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made). Initially, I’d wanted to stay east of the Mississippi, but after hearing about the Warner College of Natural Resources and the friendly culture on campus, I decided I needed to come see what CSU was all about.

When I was applying to colleges, I had no idea what I wanted to major in — how was I supposed to know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? But, after participating in an urban ecology program throughout my last two years of high school, I knew I wanted to learn more about the environment. Plus, after learning as much as I had about climate change, it felt like I had to do something to help people and the planet. But how would I even do that?

After learning about CSU’s sustainability efforts and Warner College, I ended up making the decision to come to CSU as a Restoration Ecology major. I was thrilled I had finally found what I thought was the perfect major for me … but after two months in my first semester of classes, I was having a change of heart. I remember sitting in my wildlife conservation class, thinking, “why are we still talking about animals? Obviously we can’t save them without saving their habitats first … how are we ignoring the plants?” Good thing I didn’t stay in wildlife conservation, right? After having a conversation with my roommate (which went something like, “what if I add a minor in Forestry AND a minor in Rangeland Stewardship?”) I realized that probably meant I really wanted to major in Forest and Rangeland Stewardship. (We’ll call this the second-best decision I’ve ever made.)

Switching my major mid-semester was so much easier than I had anticipated, and being in the Rangeland and Forest Management major allowed me to focus on what I was really passionate about: understanding and learning how to manage ecosystems based on what allowed those ecosystems to thrive: the plants! Once I started getting involved on campus and taking more classes, I realized I had picked the perfect major for me. I learned about the different kinds of plants that exist in rangelands and forests on the Plant ID team and in my classes. I learned how these plants affected the animals that rely on them and the ecosystems they create in my Rangeland Conservation class. And through my involvement with CSU’s chapter of the Society of American Foresters, I learned how management is enacted in the real world. I even got to assist with more than a dozen controlled burns!

In the end, how I chose my major wasn’t a straight line, and it involved dozens of conversations with my friends, advisors, and professors, but every step of that process taught me something new about myself. Having that room to grow and change is my favorite part of being here at CSU — after all the native grasses we have planted on campus, of course!

Want to hear other student stories?

Thinking of another major and wondering how students decided it was their perfect fit? Read more student stories now.

Emma Halaburt headshot

Emma Halaburt is a second-year Ram from Atlanta, Georgia. She is a Forest and Rangeland Stewardship major with a concentration in Rangeland and Forestry Management and a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability. She is a member of the Honors Program, a Warner College Career Team Ambassador, and the current president of the CSU Alpha Chapter of the Society of American Foresters. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time with her friends.

Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.