Students surveying the landscape

Watershed Science


About This Program

A combination of field work and lab work is an ideal job for many students. The watershed program focuses on the skills necessary to perform field work on lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Students will also spend time learning lab techniques for basic water testing.

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Degrees & Credits

A.S. Degree (60 Credits)


Program Video

Program Features

A unique environment to work, live, and study

Vermillion Community College is located in one of the largest watershed areas in the United States. You’ll also have access to the best quality personal and industry equipment in Northern Minnesota.

Thorough career preparation

Students in the watershed program have:

  • Qualifications for all necessary industry licenses related to employment
  • Clear transferring agreements and opportunities for further education
  • Opportunities to make professional, individual, and industry contacts
  • Diverse field careers
  • A large group of alumni to draw experience and opportunities from
Students canoeing on the water
Career Opportunities

Options for government work and private industry

Most careers involved with watershed science exist in federal, state, and local government agencies, however, some private consulting firms and industries also employee individuals in watershed science. Some of the employing agencies are USGS, State DNR, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Department of Health, Pollution Control Agency, and Watershed Districts. The types of jobs can include Hydrologic Technician, Hydrologist, Watershed Planner, Engineering Technician, Restoration Specialist, Educator, and Environmental Planner.


Meet Our Alumni

Julia (Giesen) Prokopec

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, with emphasis on geohydrology

Bemidji State in Minnesota

Education and experience
I have a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, Emphasis on geohydrology from Bemidji State in Minnesota. I have 3 years of experience as a hydrologic technician, and 4 years hydrologist with the USGS.

Current employer
U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Water Science Center, Lansing, Michigan

I am a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Science Division. My focus is surface water hydrology and flood-inundation mapping. My responsibilities are to plan, conduct, and report on assigned parts of hydrologic interpretive studies which typically adhere to established techniques and conventional methods of investigation. I also collect and analyze hydrologic data, relating to surface water, groundwater, or water quality, and determine apparent reasons for data anomalies, and correlate the wide variety of factors that affect the information presented. I also work with other government, State and local communities to address problems, scientific needs, and to obtain data that is relevant to current project needs.

Favorite Vermilion memory
All the lifelong friends I met, Water Science Club (bowling and ice fishing contest), Trap Shooting club and building a paddle (which I still use every time I am out in a canoe!)

Patrick Farrell

Degree in Watershed Science

Minnesota North - Vermilion

Education and experience
I was hired as a SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) student intern for the USGS during the summer between year 1st and 2nd year at VCC. This position led to my career with the USGS today.

Current employer
U.S Geological Survey

Hydrologic Technician. I maintain and operate a number of remote stream-gaging stations on rivers around the state. The stream gages have sensors that monitor and record surface water elevations, which we relate to streamflow or discharge (total volume of water) using a model. We verify the model by taking streamflow measurements on site every 4-6 weeks using acoustic doppler devices that track the river’s depth, width, and water velocity. Each stream gage transmits to a satellite every hour, and the data can be viewed by the public in near real-time on the web. The sensors and instruments at all sites require maintenance and calibration which we perform in the field to ensure the public is getting the most accurate and up to date data. I am also responsible for creating reports for each stream gage in which we review and analyze the data before it is published in its final form and it becomes available to the public as such.

Favorite Vermilion memory
Fish…lots of fish! Specifically the Water Club BWCA trips.

Additional Information


Designed to either enter the workforce or transfer for a bachelor degree, the Watershed Science program includes many of the general education credits required during a bachelor’s degree. Also, specific transfer agreements have been set up with the following universities:

  • University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
  • Bemidji State University
  • University of Minnesota – Crookston