Towards the end of my time at college, I knew I didn’t want to spend the next few years buried in hyper-specific PhD work. Instead, I wanted to address that disconnect that I saw – Why did I care so deeply about the environment while others didn’t? How could I get them to care? Why was no one else as obsessed with Neil Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye as I was?
I needed a program where I could gain skills other than hard science, where I could communicate science and get people interested in and comprehending the issues the environment faces. That’s when I found Bard CEP.
After a year of intensive interdisciplinary study, I planned to be a Master International student and spend 2 years in the Peace Corps to fulfill the CEP’s 4-6 month internship requirement. When that didn’t work out, I had to reevaluate all my goals.
I flew to DC to visit three spectacular classmates who were interning there and fell in love with the city. Shortly after, I came up with a great new goal – how about I intern in D.C.?
I got to applying and was thrilled to be hired on at Alaska Wilderness League!
What goes on at Alaska Wilderness League?
Alaska Wilderness League’s mission is to “lead the effort to preserve Alaska’s wild lands and waters by engaging citizens and decision-makers with a courageous, constant, victorious voice for Alaska.” It is the only Alaska-focused environmental NGO with an office right in the heart of D.C.
As the Government Affairs Intern, I assist on AWL’s campaigns in its four main focus areas:
- the Tongass National Forest,
- the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
- the Arctic Ocean, and
- the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska
Most recently, I have been lobbying specific House offices to support H.R. 239, a bipartisan bill led by Representatives Huffman (D-CA) and Fitzpatrick (R-PA) that would designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska as Wilderness.
It has been really interesting hiking all over the capitol and seeing all the different Congress(wo)men’s offices – they each bring a touch of their home state with them to their post.
I also went to some Senate offices to drop off constituent comments in support of Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015 (S.1794), which aims to halt the sale of leases for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Here I am with the Legislative Aide in charge of environmental issues in Senator Gary Peters’ (D-MI) office:
And this was all while Congress was on recess!
With Labor Day behind us, both houses are back in session and things are picking up momentum. And with the Pope arriving September 24th to address Congress about climate change, D.C. is humming with excitement.
I am definitely using the skills I gained in my Policy and Environmental Law classes at CEP. I am becoming a lot more confident in my understanding of the U.S. political system since I am a part of a team trying to get environmental bills passed.
I have only been a part of AWL for a month, but I am so excited to be a part of the organization and can’t wait to see what’s coming in the next few months!