Blue skies, clear waters, fields of green—these illustrations mark the makings of a perfect day. And for senior Jessica Kendall, it marks the perfect field of study at Huntington College. Next May, the College will award to Kendall its first degree in Environmental Science, a program that was established in 2002.
Kendall’s interest in God’s creation was first sparked by her love and fascination with water. “I’ve always been amazed by weather and water,” says Kendall, a native of Greensburg, Ind. “I used to love to go to the lake or ocean and see massive amounts of water; I was just awestruck by it.”
Within the Huntington College environmental science program, students have the choice to focus their studies on public policy or laboratory science. To build a solid science background, Kendall chose the lab option and has since spent extensive time in the biology and chemistry departments. In addition to her classes at Huntington, Kendall took advantage of a summer opportunity to study at Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies in northwestern Michigan.
As a program sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Au Sable hosts students from all over the United States and combines quality university education with a focus on the Christian perspective of environmental stewardship.
In her environmental chemistry course at Au Sable, Kendall recalls how her professor opened the first class by reading from Psalms. “He read the words ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ and then encouraged us to ‘learn chemistry so that this can be realized - that everything with breath can praise God.’ It was so amazing. The students and professors there were definitely concerned with God’s creation and being creation keepers.”
Kendall also took courses in winter stream ecology and limnology, attending lecture for half the day while accomplishing outdoor field work for the other half. Her time at Au Sable will result in receiving her Water Analyst Certificate. She continues to pursue her interest in water this year through an independent study that analyzes the physical and chemical changes in Huntington College’s own Lake Sno-Tip.
Some might think engaging in intense study of the scientific side of nature might seem to downplay the artistic beauty of God’s creation. However, for Kendall, her studies have positively impacted her faith and perspective on God’s created world.
“My faith has become more focused,” Kendall says. “I’ve always been aware of the beauty of creation, but to understand the underlying scientific principles and the intricacies of creation builds on that even more.”
As the first environmental science major at Huntington, Kendall has had the honor of pioneering a new program. Earning the nickname “guinea pig” from her biology professors, Kendall says their guidance and support have been invaluable in laying a firm foundation for future study.
“I think that the transition into other classes and programs in my future endeavors will be easier because I have been pushed at Huntington,” Kendall says. “I am not always excited that the bar is placed so high, but I am thankful.”
Kendall will establish her own high standards after graduation when she plans to earn her RN and focus on gaining a health background. She hopes to someday work as a public health professional, assisting communities that are in need of safe water supplies.