Work, Like What I’m Actually Doing 

No, I’m not just getting paid to sight in rifles, although that was one recent critical component of my job.

I’m working for Safari Club International Foundation as an intern for the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) in Jackson, WY. But what does that mean?

Not every day is sunny, but every day is great in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Safari Club International is a world-wide organization that promotes conservation through hunting, and Safari Club International Foundation, a separate entity that raises funds for SCI, promotes conservation education with an emphasis in hunting.

AWLS is under SCIF, and it’s an 8-day program that teaches educators of all types, from K-12 science or English teachers to college professors, how the understanding and scientific application of conservation, not just specifically but also hunting, can be brought into the classroom.

It’s not a boring lecture-stuffed 8 days, and it’s not just a summer camp. Just as we’d want the educators to do, we take the group of 20 to 40 participants outside.

Dr. Gary San Julian, professor emeritus at Penn State University, gives an introduction to the biodiversity of Wyoming.

The week starts with an introduction to the West’s ecosystem and land and water laws, as they’re very different from the east. Educators come in from Florida, PA, California, and every state in between, and it’s interesting to hear about the varying laws and regulations from all over.

The participants are then taught how to shoot starting on pellet guns and stepping up to .22 rifles and handguns. I sighted the guns in to make sure the participants were shooting the most accurate guns possible.

Participant Sharon Johnson-Levy learns how to properly shoot a .22 rifle from instructor Doug Sandstrom.

They’re also taught how to shoot a bow through the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).

NASP teaches 4th through 12th graders how to shoot archery, and it can be during a gym class or after school. Participants can get NASP certified and bring archery into their schools. There have been 0 accidents in NASP since its inception, and that is awesome.

One of my first targets. It’s not the best overall target, but it was my first bull’s eye!

We also take trips to Pinedale to learn about natural gas extraction and to Jackson to enjoy the city, the Grand Tetons and the National Elk Refuge. The first trip out there on Tuesday was a little chilly. It was 42 degrees with 10 mph wind. It’ll warm up to the 90s next week, so I’m okay with the little bit of chill for now.

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Mesas are always a little windy, but with the right layers, they can be enjoyed.

The last day is spent whitewater rafting in the Snake River. The water is currently 50 degrees, but wet suits make it swimmable. The suits don’t protect one’s face from a random sleet storm that may happen at 2 p.m. during the trip, but other than that, it’s toasty.

Although my time as a participant is officially over as of today, I’m excited to fully join the “staff” side (or as my boss says, the “dark” side).

So, yes, “Wyoming” is a good general descriptor of my job. “Playing in the mountains” is also acceptable.

Just hangin’ with the Grant Tetons again, no big deal.