Roush champions environment, farming

Jordan Roush

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Preserving the environment while also enhancing farm efficiency strikes a cord of nobility for Jordan Roush.

A son of Appalachia, Roush works as a Soil Conservation Technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service branch of the United States Department of Agriculture. Based in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Roush utilizes federally funded money to protect the natural resource base of farmland through cost-share assistance.

“It’s definitely a dream job,” Roush said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything. And I wouldn’t trade Rio for anything in the world, especially Dr. Hopkins. I give him a lot of credit for my job.”

Roush is a 2011 Biology and Environmental Science graduate from the University of Rio Grande. During his studies, Roush worked closely with associate professor of Biology Robert Hopkins II, Ph.D.

The duo co-authored a peer-reviewed article that was published in the October 2013 issue of Ecology of Freshwater Fish. Titled, “Effects of mountaintop mining on fish distributions in central Appalachia,” the article was the culmination of years of research.

“The research involved using distribution records for fish and satellite land cover data in the upper Kentucky River in Kentucky to develop species distribution models,” professor Hopkins said. “These models helped us explore the effects of mountaintop mining on fish species with different ecological requirements and habitat preferences.”

The work attracted national attention, specifically for its research involving the Kentucky Arrow Darter. The fish species is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Geological Survey.

“It was definitely something to be proud of,” Roush said. “And it was great for the resume. I still get people in the agency that ask about it.”

Roush said much of the work and software he learned and utilized during his studies at Rio Grande serve as the foundation for his current work.

“If I was at a big college I never would have got the chance to have done something like that,” Roush said.

The secret to Rio’s success, according to Roush, is the combination of dedicated faculty and abundance of one-on-one opportunities for students to soak in their knowledge in hands-on formats.

“With the increasing competition in the job market, students must look for ways to distinguish themselves,” Hopkins said. “When a student becomes a published author before graduation, not only does it have a positive impact on their career but it also signifies the unique opportunities afforded to students at the University of Rio Grande.”

Roush and professor Hopkins remain friends, with monthly phone calls and the occasional fishing trip.