Staff Writer Gina Brown has compiled a field guide to identifying environmental science majors at Columbia/Barnard!

Any environmental science major is well-versed in the art of rock identification, but what about those who are less inclined in this art: non-majors. How can they practice their identification skills without taking a whole semester of Solid Earth? I propose that they practice their identifying on actual environmental science majors.

So here’s a list of ten typical fashion trends amongst environmental science majors for your identification pleasure. All data was collected from the Lamont Shuttle.

  1. Hiking boots, no matter the day. Having taken many DEES classes, I’ve noticed something similar across every professor: wearing hiking boots to class. Even though my professors are just standing at the front of the room lecturing, they are ready to go into the field at any minute!
  2. Blundstones. Want to look a little more fashionable and put together? Swap out the hiking boots for a pair of Blundstones. I just bought my first pair, which was fully funded by my first TA paycheck.
  3. Hiking backpacks as an actual backpack. In any given DEES class, you will certainly find several Patagonia backpacks meant for hiking but repurposed as a school backpack. They aren’t super functional for everyday use, but environmental science majors will do anything for the aesthetic.
  4. Layered necklaces and tons of rings. For days when earth scientists aren’t working in the field, they are dressing up with plenty of necklaces with rock pendants, chunky rings, basically any type of jewelry made out of rocks. Ask them about it, and they will be able to identify exactly which mineral it’s made of.
  5. Nalgene water bottles, complete with stickers. This is basically a requirement to be an environmental science major. EVERYONE has one. The stickers also have to be collected from national parks or have sayings like “Go Green!” on them. Open the cap up and they probably also smell bad.
  6. Earth colors always. You’ll probably never see an environmental science major with bright colors. It’s always muted browns, blues, and greens. We’re probably the calmest people you’ll ever meet. Unless you ask us about a rock we find interesting!
  7. Vintage national parks sweatshirts. These are actually super cute and comfy, and were almost certainly found at the thrift.
  8. Hand lens and pocket knife. These are incredibly important when in the field, so it’s best to carry them at all times, no matter how far away one may be from a spectacular rock formation. I recently invested in my own hand lens, and I carry it at all times attached to my Barnard lanyard.
  9. CASIO watches. Specifically the waterproof ones. I’ll never forget doing a lab in my Climate Systems class and noticing at least three of us had the same watch.
  10. Handmade crochet pieces. Although heavily associated with English majors, many environmental science majors crochet as well. I’ve seen plenty of them on the Lamont shuttle, everything from tops to bags to hats!

I hope this field guide was helpful! Now get out there and start identifying :)

Header image via Bwarchives