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Demmer Scholars: Forest field trips and Supreme Court swag
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.
Hello blog world! It’s been so long since I’ve written apologies for the neglect! I’ve been so busy these past few weeks; time has definitely gotten away from me. It is strange to think that after this weekend I only have two weeks left in Washington. I have mixed feelings about this, part of me misses my family and Michigan, but I could totally stay here and work for Trout Unlimited (TU) another few months.
So, time to get down to business! I think I’ll start with my recent field trips, they have been really fun! Going back in time, July 7 happened to be my birthday. I have been on the planet for two decades now; I’m old and full of wisdom. July 7 was also a notable date because the Demmer Scholars went to the Grey Towers in Milford, Penn.
Not many people know what the Grey Towers are, or why they are important. The towers were the childhood home of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and two-time governor of Pennsylvania. The Grey Towers have been converted to an office/museum. The first floor has been preserved, and is used as a museum. The upstairs floors are used by the Pinchot Institute, a forest conservation organization, as headquarters.
After getting a fantastic tour of the place we were able to have dinner at Pinchot's outdoor dining table. This was no ordinary table though, instead of a table it was a pool. No, I’m not insane. This table had a stone ring around it for the diner’s plates, but the inside was water! Instead of passing dishes the old fashion way, with hands, they would just push their floating dishes across the pool to each other. We literally ate at a pool table. This was a birthday to remember! The Forest Service people who worked there also made me a baked Alaska, something else that does not happen every day.
Another notable field trip occurred. We met Sandra Day O’Connor! It was absolutely amazing meeting her, and I didn’t comprehend it happened until hours later. She is a very nice lady, definitely feisty, but I think that she pulls it off pretty well. At the meeting I gave her a Trout Unlimited hat and a documentary TU co-produced. So I can now say I gave Sandra Day O’Connor swag!
Before I fill this entire entry up with my field trips I should talk about my internship. Work has been going well; lately it has been a little slow. Right after the Farm Bill I started working on a paper about cleaning up abandoned mines and the legislation that many NGOs would like accomplished. Thankfully I had made some fact sheets on mine cleanups before, so I had a little background information before delving into legal language! Not the easiest reads. I’ve also been doing a lot of random things. I made a rather large memo for my supervisor about times Trout Unlimited has worked closely with counties to get conservation projects done. He had to make a speech at the National Association of Counties conference.
Trout Unlimited recently came out with a book called My Healthy Stream co-written by our CEO Chris Wood. It is a nice little hand guide on ways to make sure your stream is a healthy one and how to keep it that way. I got a free copy, one of the perks of the job, but then I had to start shipping them out. So much of the interns’ time has been shipping lots of books, and putting ordering papers into every single one. It’s still fun though!