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Demmer Scholars: DC's summer of policy
Blogger: Brooke Merrill, one of 23 MSU students in the Demmer Scholar Washington, DC, program, a senior-level class in natural resources policy that meets one night a week and all day Saturday while working full-time as paid interns at federal agencies or non-governmental organizations that focus on natural resources.
An introduction: I just finished my sophomore year at Michigan State and I’m studying Fisheries and Wildlife. My specialization is Fisheries Biology and Management AND Water Science. Fancy, huh? I’m currently interning at Trout Unlimited, and working with their government affairs team.
It is SO wild to think that I’ve been here an entire month! I feel like I have been in DC for years, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been here for just a few days, It’s odd. At Trout Unlimited the main portion of my time has been making fact sheets for congressional staffers. Some of the main conservation issues I’ve focused on are the upcoming Farm Bill, public land use, ATV use, abandoned mine land clean-up, and the Clean Water Act. I’m pretty much the Fact Master.
Working 40 hours a week takes some time to get used to. At home I’ve turned into a grandma, I get back, cook dinner, I’ve gotten fairly proficient at making the same stir fry every night, and I read. I am now on the third book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I thoroughly recommend it. I do cool stuff on the weekends, I’m not a total hermit. My housemates and I do a lot of museum hopping; my favorite one has been the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. I got to see a giant sloth skeleton!
I should also talk about the field trips the marvelous Mark Rey takes us on! As Demmer Scholars we have incredible opportunities, on Saturday we went on a tour at the Capitol, led by the head curator. I don’t think that happens very often! She gave us a splendid tour, we were even brought into an area she does not take tours, and we got to see some of the conservation work going on!
Overall, these three weeks have been action packed and I haven’t had one boring moment! DC is an incredible city, something is always going on and there is always a sight to see! As the summer goes on I’m sure I will have lots to tell!
*Also, yes, that's a brook trout I'm holding... couldn't resist.