By: Adam Rhoads, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Brad Rowse Policy Fellow
Growing up as a proud Florida boy, opportunities to engage with wildlife and sportsmen’s activities were unlimited. Fishing snook in Tampa Bay; hunting hogs, Osceola Turkeys, and deer on public lands; and watching some of the nation’s most endangered birds migrate, were common activities I engaged in while growing up. It was with these experiences and catching the ‘political bug’ that I decided to pursue a degree in Environmental Science and Policy at Florida State University (FSU). This accumulation of childhood experiences and university course offerings is what eventually lead me to pursue a real-world application of these experiences and passions with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
As I was concluding a fall internship in Washington, D.C with the U.S Senate and heading back to Tallahassee, I knew I wanted to continue my passion of working with environmental policy. Fortunately, I stumbled across a resume of a friend, and discovered they had interned with an organization called the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). After researching the organization and their mission, I decided to apply. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, CSF still offered internship opportunities, albeit through a remote format making it convenient to complete my senior year at FSU in Tallahassee, while also gaining experience in the conservation and wildlife policy arena. While most public policy internship programs were not modified to be remote during the pandemic, CSF rose to the occasion and offered a modified internship that afforded their interns opportunities and set their organization to a higher caliber than others.
During my time as an Intern, I have been able to develop skills in research, writing, and now more thoroughly understand some of the complex issues the organization works on. I have researched topics ranging from various states’ current poaching penalties, coyote hunting laws, and turkey shot size regulations, to name a few. Reading about niche areas of policies across the U.S have made me realize the importance that details have in conserving and continuing biodiverse healthy ecosystems. If not for the dedicated sportsmen and women across our country who labor and invest their time into the outdoors, our country’s vast wildlife and natural resources would be on the precipice of peril. Through writing on topics such as hunter’s issues regarding the Open Field Doctrine and crafting poll questions, I have been able to understand the difference and importance between ‘writing’ and ‘messaging.’ Each week, my co-interns Zack Celfalu, Brett Hensley, and I were able to learn more about wildlife issues and policy areas from our intern coordinator Brent Miller and CSF’s Vice President Gary Kania through our weekly meetings. These meetings taught me lessons about policies and practices that my textbooks could not have.
As the past four months of my internship with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation conclude, I leave with new perspectives, new skills, and a grateful heart. I am thankful to Brent Miller for his time, energy, guidance, expertise, and most importantly, his patience with me and the other interns. Being a leader to interns thousands of miles across the U.S on Zoom during a pandemic can seem like herding cats, but Brent did it and here we are, many research projects later and an invaluable internship tenure successfully ending. I am grateful for Gary Kania for his advice, wisdom in the policy field, and assistance during the weekly Zoom calls. I am thankful to the CSF staff for welcoming me to the weekly meetings and to Taylor Schmitz for his guidance on navigating Capitol Hill. I am grateful to my fellow interns for their support and advice on various projects and wish them well in their future endeavors. With them pursuing careers in similar fields, I believe the future of conservation and the protection of sportsmen’s issues will be in good hands.
Adam in western Colorado with a couple Big
Adam and his dad Snook fishing in Tampa Bay.
Adam outside of the United States Capitol
Building in Washington, D.C.
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Your opinion counts
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (4.76%)
- Increase access to public lands. (26.47%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.99%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (14.73%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (41.31%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (8.75%)