The Plant and Earth Science department encompasses majors in Conservation, Crop and Soil Science, Environmental Science, Geology, and Horticulture. Students in the Plant and Earth Science department benefit from dedicated faculty, a hands-on learning environment, active student organizations, and opportunities for student research and internships.

Message from the Department Chair

Don TaylorGreetings, Prospective Students!

Welcome to a department where teaching is our top priority. From the moment you arrive on campus, our faculty take a personal interest in your educational progress. We strive to bring interactive and engaging experiences to the classroom and beyond.  

With six different majors and various minors, we provide unique interdisciplinary opportunities and collaborations across unusual boundaries. From Geology to Environmental Science, Conservation to Horticulture, and Community planning to Crop and Soil Science... we hope you will find the career path that is right for you. 

We welcome you to campus, and encourage you to meet with us and tour our facilities. Should you have questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.


Donavon Taylor
Chair, Department of Plant and Earth Science

View our Program Highlights

Here are just a few things our program offers:

  • Engaged, student-centered faculty - Five of our faculty members have received the Outstanding Teacher in the College Award and one that has received the University's Wertz Award for innovative teaching.
  • Opportunities for individualized research projects - Numerous students have presented research results at local, regional and national meetings.
  • Access to excellent facilities - Our facilities provide an environment for rich, hands-on learning experiences. We have two laboratory farms, greenhouse, specialized teaching and research labs, the South Fork of the Kinnickinnic River and bordering wetlands and natural areas flowing through campus. 
  • Active student organizations - At least seven student clubs are associated with majors in our department with numerous other related clubs of interest.
  • Extensive internship opportunities - A well-established internship program allows student to choose from a variety of available internships related to their major.
  • A field-oriented teaching philosophy - Laboratories and field experiences are central to the education of students in all of our majors.

Click on each major below to learn more about the program. Full degree requirements can be found in the University Catalog.

Majors Minors

Community Planning



Crop and Soil Science

  • Crop Science Option
  • Soil Science Option
  • Sustainable Agriculture Option

Crop Science

Soil Science

Environmental Science

Sustainability Studies


  • Environmental/ Engineering Emphasis
  • Environmental/ Hydrogeology Emphasis
  • Graduate School Emphasis
  • Mineral Exploration Emphasis
  • Ocean Sciences Emphasis
  • Paleontology Emphasis
  • Petroleum Geology Emphasis




  • Professional Horticulture Option
  • Landscape Design & Contracting Option
  • Fruit & Vegetable Sustainable Systems Option


Plant and Earth Science News

13 students attended the SASES Regional Meeting in Madison. UWRF student Nikki Stehr and alum Nathan Hankes placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the 2014 Metcalfe Manuscript Contest for SASES members.

Horticulture professor David Zlesak is interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio about his new rose Above and Beyond. Listen nowlink

Welcome Todd Johnson, extension specialist, and Natasha Macnack, assistant professor of soil science, to Plant and Earth Science.

The living green wall has been installed in AgSci 331. You can see photos of the process on this CAFES Facebook postlink.

Congratulations to Jarod Blades, assistant professor of conservation, and Jill Coleman-Wasik, assistant professor of environmental science, who were recently awarded a UW System Undergraduate Research and Discovery Grant of $30,000 to form the Kinni Watershed Consortium (KWC) in order to better facilitate and disseminate research projects involving the nearby Kinnickinnic River. Read morelink

Congratulations to Sue Freiermuth, academic department associate in Plant and Earth Science, who was awarded the 2014 Chancellor's Recognition Award for Classified Staff. It is among UWRF's highest institutional awards.

View Bill Cordua's Rock Talk videos on Channel 16 RFC-TV Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m. Watch "Reading the Rocks in Interstate Park" the newest episode herelink or view all episodeslink.

Contact Us

Plant and Earth Science
324 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd St.
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