My Wild Time Protecting Public Lands

Matilda Kreider
December 02, 2017

By Matilda Kreider, PCM '20

Sitting at my desk in The Wilderness Society office, I am surrounded by beautiful historical maps of American public lands and posters crying “Save the Arctic!” A life-size cutout of Teddy Roosevelt peers over my shoulder; some days, he is wearing a polar bear mascot head.

It is perfect.

As a communications intern for a big environmental nonprofit, I play many different roles.

Every day, I compile news clips sent to staff. I help the communications team work on advocacy campaigns, like saving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling.

I also deliver papers about environmental issues to Congressional offices. Sometimes I get lost in the long hallways of the Capitol office buildings!

One of my most memorable days was a press conference in the Senate swamp in early October. I met a group of senators including Maria Cantwell and stood behind them as they announced their commitments to renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

That morning, I had a moment of clarity where I realized that this work in environmental communication and policy is exactly what I want to do when I graduate.

Senate press conference

The Wilderness Society, a public lands conservation group, is not the average SMPA student internship, but I cannot think of a better way to get political communication experience.

My internship has given me the opportunity to support a cause I believe in while developing my communications skills and working directly with policymakers and news organizations.

SMPA has also provided valuable skills in the classroom that help me put myself in the position of a journalist.

What information would a reporter seek from our press releases? How would different outlets frame the same story about national park fee hikes or about uranium mining next to the Grand Canyon?

I often think about my news writing and reporting class with Professor Harriston, my favorite class this semester, since I am always reading the news at my internship. Learning the basics of reporting has helped me become a more intelligent news consumer.

Interning for the communications team at an environmental nonprofit has been an inspiring and energizing experience.

I always knew I wanted to be a journalist or work in environmentalism, but my time at The Wilderness Society has shown me the many ways that I can follow both of my passions.