Emma Mitchell, a 2015 graduate of the University of Montana Western, is spending a year in Yellowstone National Park working with the Student Conservation Association (SCA).
The SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
Mitchell credits the real-world education she received at Montana Western for helping with her role with the SCA.
“Montana Western prepared me for this internship in many ways,” Mitchell said. “Receiving an education based on experience and not just theory has helped me to give interactive and engaging talks about the wonders of Yellowstone and emphasize the importance of experiencing the subject matter.”
As an intern at the park, Mitchell has many responsibilities including supporting rangers in the educational program by teaching kids and the general public about wildlife safety, acting as a volunteer coordinator, assisting on field trips and engaging with people from afar through distance learning over FaceTime, Google Hangout and Skype.
Mitchell grew up in Yellowstone as both her parents were park rangers stationed in the Mammoth Hot Springs complex. She studied business while at Montana Western, but soon after graduation felt the urge to pursue the family business instead.
“I am having a blast in Yellowstone,” Mitchell said. “It has been a great experience to learn more about where I grew up and be able to teach others about the beauty and wildlife in this amazing area.”
Mitchell said that she was attracted to Montana Western because of its small class sizes and the Experience One (X1) program.
“Montana Western’s X1 was a great fit for my preferred hands-on style of learning,” Mitchell said, “It was a home away from home where I gained a lot of valuable knowledge about the world and myself.”
Mitchell explained that the internship has taught her she enjoys educating children about the natural world and plans to pursue a career as a park ranger.
“The University of Montana Western paved the way for what I hope is a long and exciting career where I can facilitate experiential learning within our national parks,” Mitchell said.
Located within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Montana Western campus is just over two hours away from the national park that regularly plays host to geological excursions for UMW students.
— MONTANA WESTERN —