Natural Resources

Conserving Illinois’ Abundant Resources

Illinois is fortunate to have abundant water and some of the best, most fertile soil on earth.  Our clean waterways and vast prairies, savannas and woodlands once supported great biodiversity and what seemed like an unlimited supply of natural resources. This played a role in Chicago growing to become a booming metropolis, our state developing a significant manufacturing zone, and our farmlands becoming some of the most productive on earth. Today, agriculture is still a major driver of the Illinois economy.

All of this has come at the cost of polluted air and waterways, loss of topsoil and loss of biodiversity.. Overdevelopment has exacerbated problems such as destructive flooding and climate change has added new complications.

Today, there is a growing awareness of the need to protect and preserve all our natural resources—fossil fuels, metals and other non-renewable materials, as well as land, air and water. Environmental concern extends to ecological systems—land and renewable resources such as timber that it supports and oceans teeming with life.

Efforts are being made to conserve and improve these systems using methods such as reducing pollution, waste and climate-changing emissions through efficiency and increased use of renewable resources. Additionally, regenerating severely damaged systems through agroecology, natural area protection and restoration, lake and river restoration and land management is resulting in positive changes.


What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:

Schools are lessening their environmental impact through both administrative as well as educational efforts. They are:

  • Developing education and career pathways for a diverse student population.
  • Providing curricula that prepares graduates for workforce entry or further education in these fields.
  • Partnering with the companies, non-profits, governmental agencies and others that offer career opportunities in natural resources fields.
  • Building awareness among all college faculty and staff.
  • Implementing sustainable practices on campus such as installing renewable energy technologies, conducting water audits, building smart grid classrooms, institutionalizing recycling programs, initiating compost programs, installing water bottle filling stations, EV charging stations, and greening fleets with electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Using campus facilities as living laboratories to demonstrate innovate technology and best practices such as water conserving irrigation, LEED buildings, energy efficient green houses, cold weather crops and permaculture.
Growing Careers

There is a growing demand for professionals to manage and conserve our natural resources to protect public health, mitigate disasters, and meet the demands of a growing population for water, food, recreation and energy. Careers in natural resources include ecology, environmental restoration and conservation, environmental engineering, forestry, land management, sustainability and urban planning.

Certificate & Degree Programs

Sustainable Food

Sustainably produced, locally grown food is fresher, healthier and better-tasting.


Responding to economic opportunities created by the green economy.

Water Resources

Maintaining reliable supplies for drinking, agriculture, industry and transportation.


Working to make transportation in Illinois cleaner, greener and more efficient.


Generating electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and water resources.

Building Sciences

Building and improving sustainable, healthy spaces to save energy, costs, and resources.

Natural Resources

Conserving resources such as water, soil, and fossil fuels while regenerating damaged systems.


Increasing economic development by reducing, recycling, reusing and composting waste.