This summer I had the pleasure of being a part of the Demmer Scholar Program in D.C. The Demmer Program is a 12-week natural resource policy class augmented by field trips, guest speakers, and an internship. This program is directly related to my global theme for GLI because my theme is Natural Resources and Sustainability. I spent the entire summer hearing from natural resource professionals.
Navigating the busy city of D.C. has been a learning experience in and of itself. It is undoubtedly different from Montana. After a few mishaps, I can confidentially say I know my way around the D.C. metro system. The Demmer Scholars Program has been an intensive and rewarding experience. Every Wednesday we would have class, and our program directed Mark Rey would teach us about all things natural resource policy. Saturdays we would have field trips which ranged from Shenandoah National Park to Gifford Pinchot’s Grey Towers National Historic Site. Each field trip provided us with insight into an aspect of natural resource management, whether it be fire management or the importance of recreation. We also had weekly meetings with guest speakers such as members of the House, senators, White House staff, policymakers, and more. I met so many interesting people such as representatives, reporters, authors, park rangers, and many more natural resource professionals. We even got a night tour of the Capitol building, a tour of the white house, and a tour of the Capitol dome! Those were definitely some of my highlights of the summer.
For my internship, I worked for the Federal Forest Resource Coalition (FFRC) and the Forest Resource Association (FRA). FRA represents members of the wood supply chain at a national level. Their members include private land management, suppliers, and consuming mills. Their office being in D.C. is convenient for them to provide an effective member voice in Washington, DC. They communicate relevant and timely information with technical reports and safety releases on their website and through emails. This helps them maintain a thriving regional structure. FFRC operates a little differently. It is a unique national coalition of companies and regional trade associations whose members harvest and manufacture wood products, paper, and renewable energy from federal timber resources. Bill’s mission is to have the Forest Service sell a sustainable and growing supply of timber to members. I learned so much about the importance of proper forest management from my internship. Before working I thought timber harvesting was 100% bad all of the time no matter what. In actuality, timber harvest is an important part of managing forests to reduce wildlife risk and even promote healthy diverse ecosystems. When done sustainably, timber harvest can be used as a tool for better forests.
My summer has been an experience I will never forget. My professional skills developed so much from interacting with so many different types of people. I learned about how authors, non-profits, politicians, everyday people, the timber industry, lobbyists, environmentalists, reporters and so much more affect natural resource policy in America. It was the experience of a lifetime, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to do it.