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Taylor Hunter selected for SAF forest policy internship In D.C.

June 14, 2014
By Marissa Isgreen

CSU Natural Resource Management student Taylor Hunter will spend her summer in Washington D.C. working with the nation's leaders on national environmental policy issues. She was selected for the prestigious Society for American Foresters' Henry Clepper Forest Policy Internship which selects only one intern each year from across the nation.

Natural Resource Management student Taylor HunterThe paid internship provides an opportunity for students to see how SAF and other forestry-related organizations engage on national natural resource policy issues. Hunter will serve as assistant to the SAF Forest Policy Team and will prepare background reports, monitor environmental and natural resource legislation, and provide liaison to other environmental and natural resource organizations.

While in D.C., she will help SAF as they work with the administration on integrating forest policy into climate change policy, pushing solutions to wildland fire mitigation and funding, finding ways to accelerate management on federal lands and improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. She will attend congressional hearings and participate in meetings with congressional staff, agencies and partner groups in order to advise them on forest policy. She will also get the chance to write articles for the Forestry Source and the Journal of Forestry.

Branching out

Hunter feels honored to have been accepted for the SAF internship and hopes it can be an inspiration to others. “I hope my involvement in this internship inspires other people to know that they can do something amazing and make a difference, because I’m no different than anyone else,” she said.  “Going to D.C. is so exciting because it will allow me to branch out. I come from a really big family, so we never really traveled much.”

In high school, Hunter knew she wanted to promote sustainability and go to a large university, so she applied to CSU and chose a major in its Warner College of Natural Resources. A first generation student and the second oldest in a family of six siblings, she is paying her way through school and currently works with the Colorado State Forest Service. Hunter has also received support from scholarships at CSU, such as the The Leon H. and Katherine Rust Hurd Scholarship which she received in 2013.

“It was hard for a while because I was always comparing myself to other students, and thinking how others might have it easier. But working my way through school has taught me to be really independent and responsible,” Hunter said. "I have also been fortunate to receive scholarship awards that serve as a reminder that I am supported in my decision to further my education - they are sources of gratitude, which fuels my work ethic during the tough semesters."

Inspiration from faculty and mentors

While working for CSFS, she mentioned her interest in policy and a co-worker told her about the SAF policy internship and encouraged her to apply. Hunter credits her success in the interview and in landing the job to her classes Natural Resources History and Policy taught by Tony Cheng, Professor Dept. of Forest & Rangeland Stewardship, and Environmental Politics taught by Professor Charles Davis.

“Taylor’s success in securing the Clepper policy internship is a testament to her commitment to advancing her own education,” Cheng said. “It’s an honor and deeply gratifying to me to see Taylor be awarded this internship. Whatever path she finds herself on in the future, this will be a great learning experience."

While in D.C., Hunter would like to address the sustainable management of multi-use forests. “I want to help stakeholders collaborate and balance their needs,” she said. “There are so many perspectives that can drive policy, but it’s important to find solutions that will sustain the ecosystem. If we don’t prioritize conserving sustainable forests, all those other things – business, tourism, property values, etc - go away.”

Hunter’s interest in policy comes from a desire for justice. “I get really upset when I hear what’s happening to our planet and to each other,” she explained. “No one is going to have the same passion and perspective as me, so I can’t wait for someone to implement what I want. I have to take action.”

Following her passion

After graduation, Hunter would like to help developing countries become environmentally sound—whether that’s by joining an existing organization or by starting her own nonprofit. She believes promoting local economies, local foods, laying out cities so that people don’t have to commute and providing environmental infrastructure would help these countries to become models for sustainable livelihoods.

“We don’t want these countries to make the same mistakes that other developed nations have,” she said. “They have the opportunity to be environmentally responsible from the ground up while building strong economies."