Wilderness & Civilization

My name is Libby and I spent the Fall 2021 semester backpacking and camping throughout western Montana as part of the Wilderness & Civilization program. My theme is Resources and Sustainability, which pairs well with my major in Wildlife Biology. My major is a fairly niche field, but Resources and Sustainability encompasses a greater scope of topics that I was able to explore through this program, including wilderness ethics, nature writing, and land art.

Land art at Blackfoot Pathways sculpture garden in Lincoln, MT

What I really loved about this program was the way it balanced teaching us about big, abstract concepts driving discourse about the wilderness with learning practical skills for surviving in it. There were many days where I would get into heated discussions about the future of the Wilderness Act in the morning, then literally heat it up in the afternoon with emergency fire building. It challenged me to rethink my opinions on everything from land designations to the logging industry, and more importantly, to put those ideas into words and actions.

Logging site owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy in accordance with the principles of ecological forestry

One of the ongoing conversations we had in almost every class was about whether or not “wilderness” is even a worthwhile concept in the first place. “Big W Wilderness” as we called it is the strictest, most protected land designation we have in this country. It preserves landscapes in their most pristine condition, with no roads, motor vehicles, or extractive activities. However, it operates under the assumption that “pristine” means untouched and “untrammeled” by people. This is a very Western idea because it ignores a long history of active management by Native peoples in these landscapes. We spent over a month reading about the wilderness from the perspective of early foresters, indigenous leaders, nature writers, and modern scientists. At the end of the semester, we had to distill all of these conversations into a final essay defining our wilderness ethic and our hope for the future of wilderness. This is one of the hardest essays I have ever had to write. 

I learned so much this semester about the amazing place I live and the many perspectives and experiences that have made it the place it is today. But I also learned a lot about myself. I put myself way out of my comfort zone to do this program, and it was worth it in more ways than I can count. I realized I am so much more capable than I thought I was. I lived in the backcountry for 10 days, I navigated my trek crew through river crossing and bushwacking and trusted them to lead me in turn, I learned from indigenous voices and challenged my assumptions about industries I knew little about. And all the while, I was making friends for life. Thank you, W&C cohort of 2021. I will never forget you.

Admiring a valley in the Badger-Two Medicine, the aboriginal land of the Blackfeet Nation. The next day, we would hike past that furthest peak.

Learning the art of Lawaiʻa

Hello, my name is Sierra Franklin and I was apart of the National Student Exchange, with help from GLI, and attended The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for the Fall 2021 semester. I learned so much during my semester in Hilo and will always have a piece of Hawaiʻi in my heart. My experience was not what I thought it was going to be, but it turned out to be even better. I chose the Resources and Sustainability theme during my time at GLI due to my passion regarding protecting the environment. I am majoring in Wildlife Biology and minoring in Restoration Ecology and want to one day become an Environmental Lobbyist that advocates for policy that protects and conserves the environment.

Hapuna Beach located on the Kona side of the island, about an hour and a half from Hilo over the Saddle.

I wanted to come to Hawaiʻi to learn about the ocean and get some hands-on experience regarding marine biology labs and classes. Due to COVID regulations and rules, I could not get into any marine biology labs or even any in person classes at all. This made me really upset, but I figured that I would just use my time in Hawaiʻi to learn about Hawaiian Culture, so I enrolled in several Hawaiian studied classes. I learned about the Hawaiian Family System and how ancient and present-day Hawaiians carry out their day to day lives. I also learned all the limu [seaweed] and iʻa [animals] that the island has to offer. In my Hawaiian Ethnozoology class we learned about these specific ʻōlelo noʻeau [sayings] associated with each iʻa and what they meant in context of everyday life. For example, the ʻōlelo noʻeau about the kūmū fish is “He kūmū ka- iʻa, muʻemuʻe ke aloha” [ kūmū is the fish, bitter is love ]. Due to the fishʻs bitter taste, it is used by Hawaiians to describe the bitterness of love and how sometimes love bites back.

A traditional Hawaiian canoe shown resting on a beach on the Kona side of Big Island.
The sleepy town of Hilo on a Saturday night.

I learned that most people pronounce Hawaiʻi wrong; it is [ havai-i ]. The Hawaiian ʻwʻ is said like the English ʻvʻ. So applying this to the title of this blog post, it is said [ lavi-u ] which is translated directly to English as fishing, but it means much, much more. Lawaiʻa means to take what you need but leave the rest for the future. Does this sound familiar? It is almost exactly the definition of sustainability. In Hawaiʻi the land, sea, and iʻa are a way of life for the people living there and they treat the land with love and care. They understand that in order for the land to give to you, you need to give back to the land and help sustain itʻs health. Hawaiianʻs relationship with their land is highly admirable and I wish that the mainland US shared these same attitudes towards the environment. Relating this to my GLI theme is so easy because everything I learned in Hawaiʻi reflects practicing sustainable resource use.

Inside of a town building in downtown Hilo during a night market.

I also took a Sustainable Tourism class during my time at UH Hilo and it shed a light on a larger issue. Hawaiʻi is being largely exploited for its resources due to mass tourism over the years. Most of the tourist organizations are run by mainlanders who pocket the money out of the state of Hawaiʻi. The tourism industry is selling white sand beaches and Margaritas by the pool; they are not selling Hawaiʻi. Many tourists come here and leave, not having learned one thing about Hawaiian culture. We cannot treat Hawaiʻi like another state in the US. There is a whole different culture and way of life here that has resided for hundreds of years. This mass tourism has damaged the islands environmentally and shown the world that Hawaiʻi is just a vacation to book when you need time away from your busy life. This needs to change and it needs to change fast because Hawaiʻi is not just a vacation spot. It is a sacred place and home to thousands of people. If mass tourism continues to proceed as it is now, Hawaiian culture will be muddled and the land and sea will continue to suffer.

Akaka Falls State Park, 20 minutes outside of Hilo.

I took away many things from my experience at Hilo, but one of the biggest things that I will take away is to respect Hawaiʻi for more than what it is marketed for. Hawaiʻi is a hotspot for cultural, linguistic, and environmental knowledge. There needs to be a renovation of respect for Hawaiian culture and a revamp of the tourism industry that is focused more towards showing Hawaiian culture. My Kumu [ professor ] Lito, who taught my Hawaiian Ethnozoology class, was apart in creating the Pono Pledge that will now be aired on all incoming Hawaiian Airlines flights to Hawaiʻi. Being Pono means acting with correctness and respect. The Pono Pledge according to the website, is, “a creative new initiative by the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) and Hawaii County, encourages safe, responsible and respectful tourism.”. This pledge encompasses not only respectful tourism but also practices sustainability and lawaiʻa in the name of all lands on this Earth. If you have read this far, you have to visit the link and take the Pono Pledge, make sure you click the link and scroll all the way to the bottom and click “Take Pledge” to watch the video! Mahalo nui, and I hope if you ever visit Hawaiʻi you take all of this into consideration.

A freshly planted taro patch on campus.

Summer of Science with SpectrUM through Americorps

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.

A Summer on the Hill

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.

Standing on the balcony of the West Terrace of the Capitol building overlooking the National Mall.

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.

Senator Rand Paul being interviewed by reporters after exiting the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing to examine the current state of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified at this hearing.

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.

One of my fellow interns and a Staff Assistant standing in the Marine Corps hallway during our Pentagon tour.

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.

Senator Daines made it a priority to meet with our intern cohort and know our stories. The Senator also invites each of us to shadow him for a day and accompany him to meetings and hearings.

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 summer in California

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 [1] 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 [2]. 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.

Boating introduces pollutants, stresses out wildlife, and decreases water quality. I came on this trip to see the effect of humans through waste and plastics but it is hard not to see the diverse ways we are causing environmental detriment in our everyday lives. The natural landscape of California’s coast before people has been mostly lost to development.
My friend told me to keep an eye out for masks littering the landscape and it wasn’t hard to do so. They have also been the culprit in getting wrapped around the necks of wildlife.

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.

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/16/plastic-waste-microfibers-california-study
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/twenty-firms-produce-55-of-worlds-plastic-waste-report-reveals

My Experience as a Remote Intern

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.

This image is from the Cooplus organization. You can find their Facebook for more information @cooplus

My Summer as a Baucus Leader

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.

Caught on camera in the background of the Banking Committee’s hearing on Examining Bipartisan Bills to Increase Access to Housing

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.

Hosting Montana Public Radio News

My view this summer in the studio. I hosted newscasts multiple times daily here, and took one (1) low-quality selfie.

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. 

Listen to a feature I reported and produced at this link: https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2021-08-18/loved-to-death-montanas-fishing-spots-suffer-during-persistent-drought

Summer at the PEAS Farm

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. 

Our group learning about plant families

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. 

Cooking in the outdoor kitchen

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, D.C.

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.

At the USFWS office where I worked this summer. “we envision a world where all people value nature and conserve living resources for the well-being of life on Earth.”

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.

With MT Senator Jon Tester

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!

With my cohort members at the Watergate Hotel