What is the State of the Rockies?
The State of the Rockies is a student-faculty collaborative research project that is also an outreach initiative of CC. We focus on mainly on environmental and natural resources in the Rocky Mountain West. Traditionally we have looked at the region from Montana to Idaho down to Arizona and New Mexico. We are broadening that to focus in the next few years on the broader region and larger landscapes.
How long have you worked for the State of the Rockies?
I have worked for the State of the Rockies project since I graduated CC in 2011. I have been in this job for about three-and-a-half years now.
What made you want to get involved with the project? Did your studies or major at CC lead you to this position?
That’s pretty interesting. I was actually a Political Science major with an International Relations focus. A lot of that centered around energy, environment, and natural resource issues. I have also just always had a real passion for the American West. I could go on about that forever, but I have just always loved the region.
You recently presented in Australia about the State of the Rockies Project. What was that experience like? How did you get invited to speak there and what did you present about?
I attended the IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World of Parks Congress which is held every 10 years. I was invited there by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, an institute out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to talk a little bit about the work of the State of the Rockies, particularly the work we did on the Colorado River. I talked about the research and outreach components of our work, mainly between 2011 and 2013.
What are some of the previous successes of State of the Rockies?
We always try to hit different audiences. We try to target the community here at CC and the regional community. Some of the most successful work we have done has been presenting our work and findings in front of federal officials, which we were fortunate enough to do in 2012. We presented to the Secretary of the Interior, then Ken Salazar, who is also a CC alum. He was on campus and listened to some of the work that we had done on the Colorado River. So, some of that policy effect is a good example. We did not have any direct effect, but we were engaged in that conversation and discussion. Beyond that, we have a really big network of State of the Rockies alumni, over 50 alumni now, that are doing everything from pretty high positions in the U.S. Forest Service to non-profit and legal work.
What are the future goals of State of the Rockies?
In the past, we have always hired a diverse group of students, everywhere from English majors, Philosophy majors, EV Science, EV Policy, Political Science. We are trying to take the work that we do and promote to see how others interpret it and view it from departments across campus.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In the winter I ski a lot, a lot of skiing. I enjoy rafting and fly-fishing, too.
What is it like being a CC alum still in Colorado Springs?
That’s a great question. It’s interesting being a young person in Colorado Springs. With that being said, I think Colorado Springs is a great city. For someone who really enjoys taking advantage of public lands and outdoor recreation, you really can’t beat it. You can do some of the best mountain biking in the country 15 minutes away. You can go fishing really easily too and getting to the mountains is super easy. In that regard, I actually really like it. It can be interesting to still be around CC, but it is a fun place to work, and it’s cool to take on another perspective of CC.
Do you have any advice for seniors during their transition out of college?
We have this environmental conversation career lunch series now, and I find it funny that everyone gives different advice. You should get a Master’s degree, or you should not get a Master’s. But Colorado College provides a pretty incredible network of people, at least from my perspective in the environmental conversation field. There are CC people in all sorts of corners of that field. I would say just take a look around and find CC alums in the fields you are interested in. Also, take advantage of every opportunity. My advice probably isn’t that good. No, I would say make yourself marketable. There are a lot of things that CC students bring to the table as an employee from a liberal arts background.
What was your favorite block break during your time at CC?
Block break but also spring break of my senior year it snowed eight feet in Tahoe in four days—two feet every morning! It was nuts. I was in a house with 15 other CC friends, and we would just ski all day and just be exhausted by the end of the day.