Defending a national treasure

Intern reflects on summer protecting Alaska's wildness

Aug 01, 2017
Photo of Catherine Danley in front of Portage Pass glacier. Catherine interned for Trustees this summer.

Catherine at Portage Pass. Photo courtesy Catherine Danley.

Catherine, Hannah and Kat finished their summer internships with Trustees, but left these words as a reflection on what they learned and accomplished, both in the office and in the wilderness. Here, Catherine talks about her role in defending a national treasure. Find out about her life lessons learned on the trail this year, too.

Interning at Trustees for Alaska has been an incredible opportunity to experience and help protect Alaska’s wilderness. Not only has this internship developed my research and writing skills, but it has also strengthened my desire to work in public interest environmental law after I graduate.

Living in Alaska also gave me numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Whether I was kayaking out of Whittier or hiking through the Chugach Mountains, I gained a greater appreciation for the unique and diverse wilderness and wildlife that call this beautiful state home. Alaska is truly a national treasure.

Practical experience, amazing mentors

My favorite assignments required digging deep into the legal research on critical and minute details of the law.

Reed Lake reflecting the mountains.

Part of defending a national treasure like public lands is getting out into them. Upper Reed Lake. Photo by Catherine Danley.

I drafted memorandums to the attorneys, poured over statutes and case law, and analyzed whatever legal questions the attorneys posed. I also appreciated the exposure to various areas of environmental law, including clean air and water, wildlife protections, marine issues, and mining law.

The attorneys at Trustees proved to be incredible mentors as they shared writing advice and strategic tips for my future career. I enjoyed working with each attorney; I also learned important advocacy skills from them daily.

 

Hard Work and passion make all the difference
Kittiwakes galor flying and landing near a rookery waterfall.

Kittiwake rookery in Prince William Sound. Photo by Catherine Danley.

I learned a lot from the Trustees attorneys this summer. The most valuable lesson by far was that what we are fighting for is worth the hard work we put into it.

Public interest work and conservation inherently come with frustrating moments, and slow moving periods followed by critical emergencies. Like most areas of the law, the attorneys have to be ready to aid their client at the drop of a hat.

In addition to dedication and tenacity, the attorneys at Trustees taught me the importance of passion and perseverance. They love their work and the wilderness they strive to protect.

Alaska gets under your skin
A Ptarmigan at Williwaw Lakes.

A Ptarmigan in a branch near Williwaw Lakes. Photo by Catherine Danley.

Alaska is the last place I want to leave, and the first I want to return to. Every trail I hiked, every summit I ascended, and every animal I saw made me want to do all I can to protect the iconic natural treasures we all enjoy here in the 49th state.

Thanks to Trustees, I’ve learned invaluable skills to do just that. Now I am looking forward to return trips and a future career in environmental law.

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