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!