By: Madeline Damon
During my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to be a youth delegate with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and travel to different events with my mentor. This was my first introduction to natural resources policy, and the experience deepened my passion for the outdoor community even more and solidified my desire to work in the natural resources world. Fast forwarding four years later, that same mentor passed on the opportunity to apply for the Brad Rowse Internship Program with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
During my undergraduate experience at the University of Montana, I became very involved with conservation nonprofits throughout the Missoula and campus community. I was inspired by how they were empowered to take action, influence how people thought about conservation, and connect people through on-the-ground work. Aside from getting my Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology, I also graduated with a minor in nonprofit administration and completed a senior thesis project centered on conservation nonprofit communication. I was excited to be offered a position with CSF for the summer and learn more about an influential conservation nonprofit.
This summer I participated in the Demmer Scholars Program, which required simultaneously completing a full-time policy internship and a natural resources policy course. The program leaders had previous positive experiences working with CSF and thought the Brad Rowse Internship Program would be an excellent fit for me given my current experience and interests.
I interned virtually from Montana, and during my first week of work I was immediately impressed by CSF’s approach to accommodating virtual workers. CSF operates across the country, so the staff holds weekly conference calls and Zoom meetings to keep everyone in the loop and connected. I appreciated having two weekly virtual check-in meetings with Brent Miller, CSF’s Senior Director, Northeastern States and States Program Administrator, and the other interns. Additionally, the staff went out of their way to recognize the interns and the work we were doing.
Throughout my three months at CSF, I was able to collaborate on numerous projects with the other policy fellows. I am pursuing social research, so I particularly enjoyed projects with a focus on how the public engages in conservation activities, connects to the environment, and affects policy. For example, we were able to research the history of ballot initiatives in the U.S. and help evaluate trends over time, identify how processes differed across states, and see how they affect sportsmen and women. We also completed a research project that compared short-term license options in each state. I found the discussion around the trade-off between generating state funding for conservation while also providing increased opportunities for hunting and angling to be very relevant for today’s wildlife management.
Overall, I enjoyed working with CSF and getting involved in the important niche they fill as a nonprofit that educates legislators on how policy can impact hunting and angling traditions. CSF engages in a variety of issues, and it's clear they have a strong reputation in the natural resources policy world.
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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. (6.09%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.59%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.98%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (12.94%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.09%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.31%)