Brent Brumfield – RMC Class of 2015
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management and Policy
Originally from Calistoga, California, Brent first came to Montana when he was 11 years old. After seeing the sun set on the Rocky Mountains for the first time, he knew Montana would one day be home for him. However, his road to the Big Sky state didn’t happen overnight. After graduating high school, Brent decided to forgo college for the time being and dedicated eight years to serving our country in the U.S. Marine Corps.
It wasn’t until after he met his wife, who was from Kalispell, that Brent made his way back to Montana. Through his passion for fishing and hunting, Brent became interested in how to manage the environment in ways that best suited the wildlife.
Brent began to search online for courses and schools, and his search led him to the Environmental Management and Policy Program (EMP) and Geographic Information System (GIS) programs at Rocky Mountain College. While these programs were exactly what Brent was looking for, he was also drawn to RMC because it was a smaller institution. Brent was also able to secure funding through RMC’s Yellow Ribbon program, which helped cover 50 percent of remaining costs after the GI Bill and for which the VA matches dollar for dollar.
The unique environmental programs, more one-on-one time with the professors, and RMC’s financial support programs for veterans helped Brent decide that RMC was a perfect fit for him.
While attending RMC, Brent’s dedication to his coursework and his passion for environmental studies left a significant impact for future RMC students. One such impact included new solar panels on RMC’s Bair Family Student Center. As a member of the RMC Environmental Club, Brent helped raise the $65,025 cost to acquire and install 51 250-watt high-efficiency solar panels. RMC’s solar power production helps lower electric bills by approximately $1,800 in annual savings.
Through RMC’s unique EMP program, Brent had the opportunity to explore the Yellowstone River, Beartooth Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park first-hand to learn about the human-environment dynamics and development patterns that drive resource management policies.
It was the interdisciplinary coursework and unique field-work that helped Brent learn to think, speak, and write critically about the links between environmental science, human development, and decision making.
Brent also significantly benefited from his 1-year internship working with the Montana State Library. During this internship, he edited the sub-basin of the Yellowstone River for the USGS National Hydrography Dataset. This data had not been updated since the 1960s-1970s, and included everything that drains into the Yellowstone River.
“The biggest thing during this internship was learning the policies and procedures on why and how to update data through the GIS program,” said Brent. “I understood the importance of ‘why’.”
Through his experience and education at RMC, Brent was able to turn his EMP training and internship into a career immediately upon graduation. He is currently a consultant for a private environmental remediation firm.
“The way the GIS program is set up, it has truly made it easy to walk out of the classroom and into a job,” said Brent. “The GIS program not only teaches you how to do it, you learn why you do it. This program at RMC really teaches you the skills you need to be successful in a GIS job.”
Although Brent is now fully immersed in his exciting new career, he continues to be an active alum at RMC. He returns to campus frequently to join in on meetings for RMC’s Veterans Club, Environmental Club, ASRMC, and even swings by classes to help provide guidance and advice to current students.
Brent encourages students “to stay involved in classes, ask questions, and be proactive in managing your time.”
“The ability to approach your professors and discuss ideas you may have over course material helped me understand what the professors were trying to teach,” added Brent.
“Thanks to my education at Rocky, I am enjoying a great job. It’s not just a desk job – I get to go out and do field work and collect the data I am going to be reporting on. I get to see the projects full circle.”
Brent noted, “I would advise students to put together their resume early. GIS is a rapidly growing field and Montana is in the top 5 states for GIS rating.” By following his own advice, Brent was able to secure his employment even before he graduated from RMC.
“The whole time you go to Rocky, you hear people talk about ‘the Rocky difference’,” said Brent. “I didn’t grasp it until I talked to people from other universities. The difference is the community – because of Rocky’s size, it makes it stand out. Rocky is a small community within a larger community of Billings – there is a difference and it has made a significant difference in my life.”
Brent, who continued to work full-time while attending Rocky, also credits his family for his success. “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my wife,” added Brent. “A strong family connection and good relationship was key to my success at Rocky as well.”