College of Science

Department of Applied Environmental Science

Celebrating the Career of Laura Lee Lienk

Laura Lee Lienk has dedicated the past 26 years of her career to educating CSUMB science students, local elementary and high school students, as well as the community at large. You may know her from her service learning courses or her strong connection with Return of the Natives, but no matter your connection - you likely are well acquainted with her kind demeanor, her native habitat expertise, and her dedication to the natural environment. 

After retiring from her position as Service Learning Coordinator, Laura Lee remains committed to the students, staff, and faculty at CSUMB. Moving forward, she will serve as an Adjunct Research Faculty member in the College of Science and a part-time lecturer for the Environmental Studies degree program (in Spring 2022). To honor her work, we touched base with Laura Lee to learn more about her time at CSUMB and her goals for the future. Check out her interview below for more highlights. 

Laura Lee Lienk stands with her arms outstretched in a grassy field

What first brought you to CSUMB?

I came to CSUMB via Return of the Natives in February 1995. I had just returned from Peace Corps in Argentina and I was excited that CSUMB would in some way have a stewardship based environmental education program affiliated with it.

What was your favorite part about your career at CSUMB? 

Enabling students to be the best people they can be, and of course the wonderful people with whom I work.

What was your greatest accomplishment while working at CSUMB?

  • My work in restoring parks and open spaces in the Creeks of Salinas (particularly Natividad Creek Park), on Fort Ord National Monument (FONM), on the dunes, and elsewhere in the Monterey Bay Area.
  • Supporting the wonderful COS faculty who teach Upper Division Service Learning as they bring together social justice thinking to science courses.
  • Teaching service learning courses in COS. Keeping Return of the Natives funded and relevant.

What will you miss most about your time as a lecturer/faculty member? 

I still will be teaching ENSTU 369s-Civic Ecology at least in Spring of 2022.  When I fully do retire from teaching, I shall truly miss the CSUMB students and their desire to make a difference in the world.

What are you looking forward to most about retirement? 

Having more time to spend time in nature and to refresh my insect identification and my birding abilities.  I have shared many times that I can fully retire when Sandhill Cranes return to Carr Lake in Salinas, so I am going to have to remain involved in restoring the creek and wetland habitats of Salinas. 

Any other insight you would like to share? 

I am hopeful that I will continue to see my College of Science/AES/CSUMB colleagues and I truly value their commitment to students, to the community, and to the Earth.  

Please stop by the Watershed Greenhouses on Tuesday mornings or my new office complex in the back of the old bookstore in the University Center - behind the huge number 29 on the parking lot side of the building.


On behalf of the Department of Applied Environmental Science, thank you Laura Lee Lienk for your dedication to the Monterey Bay community! Your time at CSUMB will leave an unmatched impact that extends beyond the campus boundaries.