I spent my summer volunteering with Americorps in Missoula, MT working with SpectrUM, an interactive science museum for kids. My Global Leadership Initiative global theme is inequality and human rights, so working with all walks of life at the Missoula Public Library and having the ability to educate any person of any income gave me the chance to offer equal opportunity to all, even those living with unfortunate circumstances.
Working for SpectrUM, I got the. opportunity to assist with Parks and Recreation camps and assist the EmPower place at the food bank, giving out free meals to those in need. Volunteering with Americorps gave me the chance to live with little to no income, as none of my hours were paid but all necessary to receive an education award at the end of service. As an educator with SpectrUM in the library I am able to get more in touch with the community as parents and children filter in and out, interacting with me as I have the chance to educate the kids.
Before this experience, I was cleaning houses with my headphones in all day, rarely getting the chance to have conversations with anyone, so getting the opportunity to work with kids and lead in camps or educate at the discovery bench gave me new skills that I never thought to explore. This experience has taught me to appreciate children more as I recognize just how pure they are to the bad things in the world and how it is so important to educate them as they grow up and become, eventually, the citizens who decide the future of the world.
I enjoyed my summer experience so much with SpectrUM through Americorps that I actually decided to serve another Americorps service term part-time during the school year. I recommend serving with Americorps to anyone who desires to get in direct involvement with their community and inspires to make a difference. The people I have met and the connections I have made throughout this experience have me overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to volunteer within my community.
I spent the summer living in Washington, D.C. and working as a Senate Intern through the Baucus Leadership Institute. I was assigned to work in the office of Montana Senator, Steve Daines. Senator Daines sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; the Finance Committee; and the Indian Affairs Committee. My global theme is Global Public Health, so I was extremely fascinated to observe the Covid-19 response from the federal level and explore other topics like rural mental health and telehealth. I was able to attend Senate committee hearings that covered each of these topics, including a hearing that Dr. Anthony Fauci attended to give expert testimony.
Some other interesting healthcare topics I had the opportunity to learn more about included direct primary care economic models, Medicare expansion and reimbursement, and pharmaceutical patent litigation. My favorite part about the fast-paced environment on Capitol Hill was the constant push to learn and stay on top of each issue. I was fascinated to learn more about the Library of Congress and their sole purpose of educating members of Congress and compiling information and reports on every topic imaginable.
In addition to healthcare topics, I spent a majority of my time working with the Natural Resource Policy Advisor in our office covering topics from forest management and wildfire prevention to endangered species protection and management. The Montana drought emergency and cattle market transparency were also critical issues addressed by Senator Daines’ office during my internship.
Second to the learning, I immensely enjoyed getting to meet so many new people on a daily basis. It was a privilege to meet and develop close friendships with the other interns in Senator Daines’ office, in addition to interns in Senators Klobuchar, Grassley, Lankford, Cramer, and Tester’s offices, to name a few. To my surprise, I observed more comradery than expected between offices of contrasting political ideologies. It was interesting to witness events on the Hill in real-time and then see how media outlets would report on those same events. For example, I was in the Hart building when Representative Joyce Beatty (OH) and multiple voting rights activists protested for H.R. 1 and were arrested for demonstrating in the building. I had a front-row seat to several other news-worthy events, including a shooting incident at a Washington Nationals baseball game, flash-flooding and a tornado that touched down within proximity of D.C., and Senator Schumer’s call for cloture on the INVEST in America Act.
Washington, D.C. is a city of rich history and culture and I feel lucky to have experienced living there. Every neighborhood was unique from the other. It was a bit of a challenge at first to adjust to life without a car, but I quickly got the hang of the metro and enjoyed the convenience and simplicity of getting anywhere I needed on the metro or by my own two feet. Thanks to some generous friends, I was able to visit both the National Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time.
My summer internship opened my eyes to career paths I had not considered and allowed me to see how I could make an impact in politics, either at the state or federal level. This experience provided some clarity in my career path, gave me the opportunity to establish a network of friends, mentors, and professionals, and gave me memories that I will treasure for years to come.
My name is Trevor Finney and I visited California this summer with the goal of documenting the level of plastic pollution along the coast from Los Angeles to Eureka. My theme is natural resources and I felt this would be a good opportunity to see first-hand how efforts to cleanup the pacific coast are going, and look into micro-plastic pollution in the area as well. I collected water samples from different locations that were notorious for having high concentrations of micro-plastics (e.g. the bay area) and look forward to getting those spectrometry results back from the lab.
One of the main things I learned from this trip was that most plastic pollution is not large items that you can see. Most plastic bits that have been in the ocean for a long period of time have broken down into minuscule pieces that float in the upper levels of sea water. This is just as true in California as it is in the middle of the pacific where the great garbage patch is located. The majority of the pieces of plastic that we can see no longer resemble the original item they came from, rather they are multicolored, pebble sized pieces that cover beaches.
One piece of good news is that local organizations have largely cleaned up the most polluted areas of California. Areas like Clam Beach north of Eureka and East Beach in Santa Barbara (pictured below) look a lot better than they used to. However this is only the tip of the iceberg as we cannot see that most the plastic is too small and hundreds of miles out from the shore.
I also now feel that in this situation, people are to blame but not entirely responsible as individuals. We are responsible for the 13.3 quadrillion fibers  that are released into the ocean every year from choosing to wear polyester, but it is the large corporations too that are to blame with 20 of them producing over half of all the plastic pollution globally . The mismanagement of waste and our unwillingness to refuse plastic is a complex issue, but it doesn’t get resolved if we don’t talk about it, if we are not aware of its implications.
Plastic pollution in California often comes from inland sources, carried by rivers and streams. The eastern half of the great garbage patch between California and Hawaii is composed of mostly plastics no longer than 1 centimeter. Similar particles can be found along California’s coast from all across the pacific. This piece comments how the interconnectedness of plastic pollution due to the ocean gyres transporting materials across international waters. The consequences of our environmental neglect and mismanagement of waste having lasting effects as plastics take hundreds of years to degrade and can cause immense detriment to the wildlife in our seas.
My Name is Elizabeth LaRance and my global theme is human rights and inequality. My beyond the classroom experience was a remote internships through the intern abroad HQ company. The internship focused on human rights in Morocco. My experience gave me the opportunity to explore inequality issues in another country and to compare those issues to current issues in the United States.
My internship worked closely with a non-profit organization that was created in Morocco in 2016 named Cooplus. This organization started a project titled “Empowering Women Through Sustainable Cooperative Entrepreneurship in Morocco.” The project aims to increase women’s decision-making power in their businesses, improve the responsiveness of business development support services to gender equality issues, and engage communities in supporting women’s rights and breaking down gender stereotypes related to women’s entrepreneurship. Throughout my internship I worked alongside my coordinator who is also a main collaborator of the organization’s project. Through this I was able to receive a glance into the lives of women in Morocco and gain an unexpected appreciation for my country.
My experience provided me with a lot of knowledge on the current issues surrounding gender inequality in Morocco. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic I was not able to travel abroad and work more closely with the organization. I was, however, able to assist the organization in implementing digital alternatives in order to the keep the project of empowering women through sustainable cooperative entrepreneurship moving in a positive direction.
My global theme is Culture and Politics, and my global challenge is how to ensure a quality standard of living for all people in a local community.
This summer, I was a Baucus Leader and completed an internship at the United States Senate. My internship took place with Senator Crapo, who serves as the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. The Finance Committee deals with issues such as healthcare, retirement, labor, infrastructure, and more.
Over the summer, this committee held a number of hearings to search for solutions that address issues that affect local communities. Some of these included Funding and Financing Options to Bolster American Infrastructure, Mental Health Care in America: Addressing Root Causes and Identifying Policy Solutions, and Building on Bipartisan Retirement Legislation: How Can Congress Help. In fact, I was even able to attend the hearing on retirement legislation and watch the senators collaboratively discuss bipartisan solutions for expanding Americans’ retirement savings in order for them to live dignified post-retirement lives. Another pertinent hearing I had the opportunity to sit in on was the Banking Committee’s hearing on Examining Bipartisan Bills to Increase Access to Housing.
My Beyond the Classroom Experience added layers to my global challenge even outside of the internship itself. Living in Washington, D.C. exposed me to a completely different type of local community than any other places that I have spent extended time in. It had its unique strengths, such as clean public transportation systems and extensive green space interspersed throughout the city. It also presented its own set of challenges, such as homeless encampments being shut down and prolific gun violence permeating the city.
One of the challenges that I didn’t foresee was how difficult it was for me to find access to COVID-19 testing. Because I was living in the city without a car, I was unable to utilize most of the testing sites because they require people to remain in their cars through a drive-thru. I was troubled by how significant of a barrier access to a vehicle proved to be, especially during a pandemic.
Emerging from my experience in Washington this summer, I believe I am better equipped to tackle community challenges. Working at the Senate exposed me to the inner processes behind national policy-making and demonstrated the roles of various actors, such as legislators, staff members, lobbyists, and the executive and judicial branches in those processes.
I came into this internship with a perspective particular to growing up in the inland northwest and got to challenge many of many preconceived notions by living and working in a very different place. This summer has sparked the desire in me to spend time in more places around the country and the world to diversify my life experiences.
My name is Aidan Morton and I chose to be a part of the “inequality and human rights” global theme because I’m passionate about finding way(s) inequalities in social, economic and political power and status impact everyone around us. I’ve found that more often than not we find these inequalities by pulling back the curtain, and analyzing the otherwise unseen ramifications of what’s happening in our state and its effect on those around us. It’s something I learned in the University of Montana School of Journalism and my classes in GLI, and something that became more apparent while interning at Montana Public Radio this summer.
Although I stayed in Missoula for my Beyond the Classroom experience this summer, I felt completely immersed in a new position with new roles. I gained a new perspective as a news host and reporter in a busy newsroom and was required to learn and act quickly. The news this summer came in hot and fast (pun intended) and it was my job to get it to listeners in our region. Every weekday, I was required to host multiple newscasts on the air while chasing individually reported stories. From chatting with wildland firefighters and police chiefs to biologists and conservationists, I gained a sense of how rapidly drought took hold in the west, and how persistent its effects were and will be on Montanans and Montana industries. In this position, I reported grizzly deaths, police involved deaths, Covid-19 deaths and even the deaths and memorials of Montana icons. It really felt like I had my finger on the pulse of Montana news.
Besides learning time management and efficient editing skills, I learned how to effectively orchestrate and communicate these stories over the air and identify trends among these events that developed over the summer. When I look back at my experience through the lens of my global theme, I notice how rapidly stories and examples of inequalities and human rights obstructions/violations came up. Furthermore, I notice how quickly those events were put in the backseat as more developments unsurfaced. I learned the importance of being timely and up to date as more news broke, but more importantly I learned that revisiting older news and trends is vital in making sure reports of injustice or wrongdoing do not expire.
I feel that my leadership skills have most drastically improved in my voice as a young journalist. It was reassuring to have the support of professionals in my work, especially as I caught my footing in this new role and began to try new things. Most of all, I valued the connections I made with the professionals in this field and I appreciated their patience and mentorship as I grew in the position. Every day in the newsroom was truly different, and I loved the challenge this dynamic brought. As I listen back on my first days at the job in May, I’m surprised how much and how quickly I grew in this role. Going forward, I trust that the skills I’ve learned and improvements I’ve made, both as a person and in my career, will help me more confidently analyze and speak out as I see abuses of human rights and inequality.
Hello! My name is Sonia Bornemann and for my GLI Global Theme, I chose to work on Natural Resources and Sustainability. While there are a lot of options to choose from as far as out of classroom experiences go in this field, I spent my summer at the PEAS Farm. While here, I learned truly what natural resources are and how they can be used sustainably. I was able to have hands-on experiences with the earth in healthy ways while also helping good causes like the food bank. While I didn’t get to experience different cultures, I did get to engage with my community like never before. Food and therefore farms really do have a way of bringing people together. It helped me to realize that I want to be a community leader in the sustainability movement. I want to help educate others and hopefully help to keep others healthy during these rapidly changing times.
Food is a huge part of sustainability. I knew this before I started working at the farm, but now I know what actually has to be done in order to make food production sustainable. Many of my preconceived ideas about meat production and what farms looked like were proven wrong the more I learned. I realized that cattle ranchers could actually sequester carbon so long as they manage their fields properly. And If farms dont rotate their crops then the soil will be quickly depleted of essential nutrients. Many of the issues surrounding food production and it’s toll on the environment come from treating the land and animals on it poorly in the name of profits. This all could change if people learned what buying local is and the many benefits it has.
While I learned a lot about Natural Resources and Sustainability, I also gained some very important leadership skills. Not in the manner I expected to though. Every day we worked at the farm, two people would branch off early to cook lunch for everyone. We all took turns so each of us had to cook about seven times throughout the experience. Most days we would also have to cook for instructors, guests, and the Youth Harvest Program as well. This adds up to usually around 20-25 people. And as far as ingredients, we had a few essentials like rice and oil, and then whatever we could harvest on the farm. Naturally, this took quite a bit of problem solving. I went from never having cooked for anyone but myself, to cooking for many strangers in an outdoor kitchen with chickens roaming around real quick. But I remember cooking in the first week and on the last day. I was at first very unsure of myself and trying to rely on others too much. On the last day I made sure to use everyone’s strengths to produce the best meal that I could for everyone ( and it was delicious). While I gained leadership experience from problem solving on the farm as well, when I was put into a situation outside of my comfort zone and forced to make do with what was available, I learned my own strengths and weaknesses as well as how to utilize others strengths. It’s not an experience I was expecting nor would I have expected to learn so much from it. But now I feel more confident about cooking for myself and others, as well as my own abilities.
Hello! My name is John Nicholas Mills, but I go by Nick. My GLI global theme is natural resources and sustainability. As part of my Beyond the Classroom Experience, this past summer I interned with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) International Affairs Program in Washington, D.C. I’m interested in using law and policy to protect and expand wildlife habitat/ecosystems, and this experience allowed me to further explore the conservation field while getting a taste of the big city lifestyle along the way. I learned how the federal government, NGO’s and other organizations are working to conserve wildlife and natural resources within the United States and abroad. Importantly, I got to be part of a team of biologists and policy makers that are conserving wildlife internationally.
During my internship, I also participated in the Demmer Scholars Program. Students from UMT, Michigan State, and Mississippi State participated in this natural resource policy oriented class. Around 12 of us lived in D.C. for the summer. We all interned at different organizations in the private and public sectors in D.C, which expanded my knowledge of how natural resource policy is made and the relevant issues within the field. We also got to learn from and ask questions to different guest speakers. Some highlights for me included USFS Chief Vikki Christensen, Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, NRCS Chief Terry Crosby, and former USFWS Chief of Refuges Geoff Haskett. We visited policy making centers, field stations, and scenic areas in D.C. and throughout the east. Being apart of this program helped me form a bond with other cohort members as we learned to navigate the big city, while also expanding my perspective through the diverse range of individuals I got to know and hear from. I was able to become more confident in asking questions and reaching out for advise relating to my interests and career path.
The USFWS has always interested me because of its role as a federal agency whose primary mission is to conserve wildlife, plants, and their habitats. As an intern for USFWS International Affairs, I worked with a dedicated and knowledgable team of civil servants to accomplish a broad range of conservation goals internationally. Specifically, I worked with laws and regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, CITES, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act to ensure that international wildlife trade is not harmful to species and their habitats. I was in constant contact with the general public, other federal agencies, and various international authorities. As a result, l left my internship with stronger communication skills while also further appreciating the importance of collaboration to successfully conserve wildlife and plants. While working in a cubicle in a big city for the summer was a new experience for me, being part of the process to conserve the outdoors and wildlife I learned to love here in Montana was undoubtedly a valuable experience that I was fortunate to be a part of.
I also had the chance to sit down with Montana Senator Jon Tester and tour the U.S. Capitol. We were able to talk about conservation issues in our home state, and how the Senator is advancing policy in D.C. that will benefit Montanans and the public land that makes Montana so special. While our planet is currently experiencing a biodiversity crisis due in large part to human activities, my experience showed me that many people from different backgrounds and organizations are working diligently to protect and expand earths natural wonders, and I hope to continue to be a part of this effort in the future. Thanks for reading!
As an out-of-state student at the University of Montana I found my Beyond the Classroom Experience to be a blessing in disguise. Originally, I had planned to spend a semester studying abroad at the University of Tasmania. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my experience was cancelled, and I had to get creative to meet the GLI Beyond the Classroom requirements.
I am an Environmental Studies major and constantly heard about the intensive PEAS Farm class our department provides. I decided to participate in the class for my requirement. Although it wasn’t four months on a tropical rainforest island it was a 12-week experience I will never forget.
My Global Theme and Challenge for the GLI program is Natural Resource and Sustainability. I chose this theme because I’ve been interested in creating more accessible information on how to become more sustainable in our world’s everchanging situation. The PEAS Farm stands for Program in Ecological Agriculture and Sustainability. The program offers a summer long outdoor classroom experience learning about how to practice agriculture in a way that works with nature, and how to provide pounds of produce for the community in a sustainable way.
I grew up in a Minneapolis suburb where it seemed eating local meant grabbing a block of cheese labeled “Made in Wisconsin”. There wasn’t much education around the topic, and almost no time for hustling suburban families to understand the importance of knowing exactly how food gets to their table.
While getting my hands dirty each day on the farm, I learned an important factor when it comes to local and sustainable food production – community. Finding a place in the smaller PEAS community, and then the greater Missoula community was a feeling unlike any other.
It was eye-opening to see how necessary community is in making sustainability accessible. Each person working on the farm, and each person buying the produce understood how important it was to eat food locally. It changed my perspective on how achievable sustainability is, and I now understand with good education and effective outreach communities can be brought together to create real change.
At the beginning of the summer, I had no idea all that farming entailed. As the summer progressed, I was able to step into a leadership role with my fellow crew members, and community. I enjoyed being a leader on the farm by facilitating the creation of what we called “FARMily”. Bringing people together and creating a safe place was a role I was honored to have, and it became essential for producing nourishing food for others.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend a summer in Montana soil and gaining new perspectives on the Missoula community. With all the knowledge I now have surrounding natural resource and sustainability I am excited to take the next step and find ways to keep learning more while educating others.
To better understand my global theme of culture and politics, my summer was spent contemplating what differentiates big ‘W’ Wilderness from small ‘w’ wilderness. Big ‘W’ Wilderness is land specifically assigned the designation of Wilderness. It can be a state or federal designation, but once designated, management for these lands changes a great deal. I also observed how those statutes are interpreted based on need and human agendas. Wilderness is an interesting concept because its creation is based off the Wilderness Act of 1964, where Wilderness was officially defined as, “…in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, [Wilderness] is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” (Wilderness Act, 1964). It prohibits anything mechanized such as chainsaws, mountain bikes, or motor vehicles from being used within its boundaries. That being said, some Wilderness areas have some grandfathered in clauses that permit some of those prohibitions. For example, in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness—where I worked all summer—backcountry airstrips were grandfathered into its statute, and thus, airplanes are allowed to fly and land in that Wilderness. This is unusual for Wilderness as motorized vehicles (i.e., planes) are supposed to be illegal. I heard these planes all summer while we worked. There are a few contradictions like that in the Wilderness Act, and I have struggled with understanding them all summer. My conclusion is that in order to protect the majority of the land, compromises were made to sacrifice smaller sections for established commodities. It still sits uncomfortably in my stomach, but such is the way of the world.
I must admit, despite my discomfort with the ambiguity of the Wilderness Act, I had the opportunity to fly in a plane over the Frank Church Wilderness, and I loved every minute of it. Looking down upon the mountains and seeing where I had been working all summer from a birds eye view was simply spectacular. I wrote in my journal that night:
“There’s little more humbling than looking down upon mountains thousands upon millions of times larger and older than you are. And there’s something so delightful about looking down and seeing a backcountry trail. Not many have traveled it but it’s something you see as a member of a trail crew and think ‘my people have walked this, my people have worked this; this is why we’re here.’ These tiny ant lines cut into mountains and valleys, down to rivers and following ridges. We are so so small. But we are so so powerful.”
It was really inspiring and encouraging to be able to experience that. It was a highlight of the summer, and I am so grateful I got to have that opportunity—for work nonetheless!
The cultural aspect of my internship was in working on trails and surviving in the backcountry, which was something I learned a great deal about firsthand. It can be tough at times, but if you can find your rhythm, make peace with the structure, and embrace being brought down to the simpler lifestyle of survival, it can be so rewarding. Being in the backcountry, you learn quickly there are a number of things that are out of your control: thunderstorms, where water sources are located, when trees decide to fall. All you can do is persevere through and keep in mind; these troubles will pass.
People who do regularly work trails—trail dogs—are diverse. More so than I ever expected. That’s not to mention the community and comradery that comes from suffering with people. As a woman, you are warned of being leery of men and making sure they don’t walk all over you. The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation—my employer for this summer—is an organization that does not tolerate or stand for that kind of sexism in the front or back country. Seeing as the majority of the organization is run by women and the president of the board for the organization is a woman, prejudice was never something that was an issue. Instead, the community is open, accepting, and non-judgmental. Being out in Wilderness for up to nine days at a time can be hard on a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. This isn’t work that’s cut out for everyone. To have such a community that is persistent yet patient as you discover where you stand on such work, is priceless. The connections I discovered this summer are ones I will have for the rest of my life.
I gained a better understanding of the diverse perspectives related to my theme and challenge, however, not in the way I thought I would. I never realized the importance of work culture and its relation to the success of a team such as the crews we worked on this summer. I was lucky enough to have a small crew and we all got along famously. Other interns in their crews, I came to learn, did not. Being able to work with people greatly different from yourself is critical. Adaptability is everything, and it’s important to be able to communicate issues that come up in a clear and succinct way, so problems don’t ruminate until someone blows up. I had ample opportunity to practice these kinds of skills throughout the duration of my internship. My crew leader made sure to offer opportunities for us to take charge and practice being the leaders for the day, including planning where the team would go and what we would do. My organizational, communication, and preparation skills also improved exponentially as it was critical, I be prepared for our excursions into the backcountry, and that I knew where things were should I need them quick. As a result, my confidence in my physical ability and my ability to handle emergency situations has increased as well.
Wilderness Stewardship is so important, and going forward, I hope to continue pursuing work opportunities in Wilderness.