Ashleigh Walter ('15)
Why did you choose environmental studies for your major?
I grew up in-tune with nature, often going camping and hiking with my family. In high school I had a wonderful biology and environmental studies teacher and she got me excited about the two subjects. I loved the classes and decided that the environment was something I really care about, and I was able to see myself pursuing both subjects in the future.
What is the best part about being an environmental studies major?
Going outside! We get to leave the classroom and do a lot of hands-on work.
What advice do you have for future students?
It is one hundred percent okay to be undecided. Do not feel pressured to pick a major right away; make sure it feels right to you. If you have an idea of what classes you get excited about, start from there. Also, do not get so caught up in one plan for yourself that you forget to keep your eyes open for other opportunities. I went into the summer thinking I had a job lined up until that fell through and I blindly stumbled into a great internship.
What did you do for your internship?
I interned for a nonprofit organization called Montana Conservation Voters (MCV) last summer. Before June, I had never even heard of the organization, but the internship ended up involving both my environmental studies major and political science minor. The executive director was a Saint Bens alumni and Minnesota native who gave me tons of insight into the political realm of the environmental movement. MCV is a political organization that monitors incumbents for their conservation mindfulness and assesses candidates for potential endorsements. If MCV decides to support a candidate, they make the endorsement known to members who might then be inclined to support the candidate. MCV also creates legislative score cards that are sent out to dues-paying members to aid in their voting decisions. During my internship, I interviewed board members and wrote profiles for the website, wrote letters to the editor, researched and made recommendations for improving sustainability, and more generally became familiar with the political landscape in Montana.
What are your future plans and goals?
Eventually, I see myself returning to my home state. There is still a lot to do in terms of greening Montana. However, I want to keep my doors open to all opportunities in the environmental field.