1. It’s the only program of its kind in the area.

You’d think that an area right along one of the great lakes would be swimming with these programs. (Horrible joke. I’m sorry.) But Gannon’s program, which will begin admitting students next fall, is currently one of a kind.

2. There are lots of career options in marine biology.

Aquatic ecologist, field ecologist, fisheries biologist, aquatic microbiologist, environmental planner, natural resource manager and park naturalist — to name a few. And these are just the opportunities available with a bachelor’s degree in freshwater and marine biology. Graduate degrees open up many more choices.

3. Erie offers plenty of opportunities for field experience.

Just a few miles from campus are boatloads — again, I’m sorry — of organizations related to freshwater and marine biology. Presque Isle State Park, the Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Erie County Board of Health, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Regional Science Consortium and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy all have offices nearby. In fact, most are located at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle.

4. Gannon has a boat.

Students who sign up for the program utilize the Environaut, a 53-foot research vessel, to gain hands-on training on Lake Erie. And students will have even more resources available to them through the newly created Institute for Water Education, Training and Testing. The Institute will allow students to conduct testing for human pathogens, measure levels of toxins and chemicals in the water, and identify invasive species.

5. You can take classes in the Bahamas.

The curriculum includes a course on tropical and marine biology in the Bahamas during spring break. The course includes daily trips to study the natural ecosystems, scuba diving and identifying native wildlife. Although the trip is open to all majors, it is particularly useful for students in the new freshwater and marine biology program.