By: Gabrielle Vermeire, RMW 100 Women for the Wild Intern
It’s always a relief to land an internship for the summer, since three months is a great opportunity to pad the resume of an anxious college student. I consider myself lucky that Tehri relented to my pestering and gave me the 100 Women for the Wild internship. I’m also lucky that Rocky Mountain Wild is an organization whose principles I believe in and whose work I’m beyond excited to help with. So to 100 Women for the Wild, thank you so much, and know that I’ll try my hardest (and obviously succeed) in making your pilot internship program a success.
Before I go any further, my name’s Gabby, it’ll be my senior year at CU Boulder double-majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Political Science, and I’m a sucker for any way that I can combine biology and politics. I’ve lived in Boulder my whole life (besides a brief sojourn at University of Chicago my freshman year), and so far my free time in my adult life has been devoted to geeking-out on elections and state legislative issues.
I’m hoping to bring some of my knowledge/experience in politics to helping with research on threats to the Endangered Species Act. Currently, action is being taken on the national level to weaken the ESA, and our organization needs to articulate these threats to our members, and additionally give them concrete actions they can do to resist these anti-science, anti-wildlife efforts. I’ll be contacting other conservation organizations to find out what the timeline of the threats to the ESA is, as well as how they are intending on opposing them. Anyone who values wildlife, science, combating climate change, or basic conservation of vital and irreplaceable species should be shocked and angered by these attempts to tamper with the act.
I’ll also be assisting updating our website’s Key Species pages, and I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about the key endangered and threatened species in Colorado, but I’m stoked to learn. Pikas are something else that I know nada about, and Megan will be nice enough to bring me out in the field to study pikas’ stress response to climate change. I’ve Googled enough pictures of pikas to know that I want to help protect their existence at all costs.
You might be gathering that there’s more that this organization does that I’m not familiar with than that I am. That’s why this internship is so valuable to be as an educational experience, and why I’m so grateful to 100 Women for the Wild for making it happen. When I’m asked the perpetual undergrad question of, “so what are you planning on doing once you graduate,” I usually respond with some mixture of laughing and crying. I’m pretty clear with myself that I want to serve humanity and the natural world in some way, and that I’ll never not feel passionate about ecology and politics. An internship with an organization like RMW gives me a glimpse into a concrete way that someone can actually make a change in their world working in the private sector. I’m still undecided as to whether I want to work for the government or an NGO, where I’d poking and prodding the government from the outside. Regardless, interning with RMW will be an education on the world of conservation, both at a biological and at a legislative level.
I also don’t want to skip over the “Women” part of 100 Women for the Wild. It can be difficult to be comfortable putting emphasis on the importance of women, specifically, being involved in conservation biology. There’s a subtle fear, and it’s not necessarily of retribution or anything like that. No one wants to give the appearance of making things “unnecessarily about gender” or to come off as a nag who decries sexism instead of relying on their merits. I just don’t think acknowledging and fighting gender bias and being a badass are mutually exclusive.
Thanks again, and wish me luck!