Policy-making is up close and personal for Demmer Scholars

May 17, 2011

A group of talented students from Michigan State and Mississippi State are working on their networks more than their tans this summer by studying the intricacies of federal policy-making while working full-time in Washington, D.C.

Students in the William A. Demmer Scholars Program take 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. The program is led by Mark Rey, executive in residence in the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The Executive in Residence program is funded by MSU AgBioResearch.

Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Jay Jensen is being flanked by Sarah Savoie, Virginia Borcherdt, and Sarah Oyetubo
Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Jay Jensen is flanked by 2009 Demmer Scholars (from left) Sarah Savoie, Virginia Borcherdt and Sarah Oyetubo.

“The course reviews and evaluates how each branch of the federal government, as well as non-governmental groups – including the media – affect the development and implementation of federal government policy in the natural resources area,” said Rey.

This is the second year the program has partnered with Mississippi State, offering all the students a chance to learn from each other about their cultures and traditions. The course is offered by Michigan State; Mississippi State students transfer the credits to their home school.

This year, the Demmer Scholars are interning at number of high-profile agencies and groups, including the Department of the Interior, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Wilderness Society and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Office of Congressional Affairs.

Demmer Scholars with Sen. Stabenow
2010 Demmer Scholars Monika Johnson and Jon Beard with Senator Debbie Stabenow.

“Through these internships, the students get real-world experience, see classroom principles applied in practice and make valuable career contacts for educational and employment opportunities in the future,” said Rey. “In 2009 and 2010, 37 students interned and 26 are interning this summer. Twelve alumni of the program got jobs in D.C. This program gives the participating universities a cadre of young natural resources leaders active in federal policy-making.”

The 2011 Michigan State University Demmer Scholars and their internship placements are:

  • Noah Allington, Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary -- Michigan
  • Veronica Gracia Wing, Safari Club International
  • Amanda Green, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Gina Guzzardo, U.S. Forest Service Partnership Office, National Forest Foundation
  • Emily Marx, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Office of Congressional Affairs
  • Marielle Peschiera Rivera, Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey
  • Rachel Plawecki, National Association of State Foresters
  • Aaron Riley, USA Rice Federation
  • Kelsey Schlee, Trout Unlimited
  • Stephanie Simowski, Environmental Investigation Agency
  • August Warren, American Forest Foundation
  • Geralyn Gewirtz, Society of American Foresters
  • Jennifer Humphries, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  • Sarah Mendonca, The Wilderness Society
  • Charlotte Miller, U.S. Forest Service, International Programs Office
  • Brittnee Shows, U.S. Forest Service, Legislative Affairs Office
  • Ben Silvernail, The Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Carolyn Sundquist, Strategic Conservation Services
  • Kyle Varner, American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Shannon Walker, American Farmland Trust
  • Ena Zejnilovic, Department of the Interior, Office of Congressional Affairs


The 2011 Mississippi State University Demmer Scholars and their internship placements are:

  • Andy Brown, USDA Foreign Agriculture Service
  • Barrie Rhemann, U.S. Senate, Committee on Appropriations Mississippi
  • Jared Hutchins, Hardwood Federation/American Forest & Paper Association
  • Lindsay Linhares, Office of Congressman Gregg Harper/National Association of Conservation Districts
  • Kyle Sherman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Division

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