A senior in the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, Emily Bogan ‘18 appreciated that she could take core courses in the natural sciences, build an ecological background, but follow a socially oriented major in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) program. 

After all, she says, “Outdoor recreation is a product of people and the environment.” 

Emily, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, took full advantage of experiential learning opportunities the Rubenstein School offers to help her sample, discover, and pinpoint her career interests. It helped that the PRT major requires students do an internship for credit. Emily did several. 

Awarded a paid internship through the Rubenstein School’s Office of Experiential Learning Perennial Summer Internship Program, Emily worked at Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont. There, she learned the ins and outs of resort promotions alongside the marketing director. 

She also interned with Westport Hospitality. She became familiar with the inner workings of the hotel and hospitality business and built her confidence in customer relations at three locations in Burlington, including Hotel Vermont. The internship led to continued part-time employment at Hotel Vermont’s restaurant – a job, she says, that allows her to feel connected to the community. 

A fall field semester with Swan Valley Connections in northwestern Montana opened her eyes to another facet of recreation and tourism – environmental education. With other students, Emily lived on an old homestead and learned about the landscapes of Montana and the livelihoods of local residents. She fell in love with Montana. Her experience led to a summer internship with Swan Valley and the chance to reinforce her newfound passion for environmental education. 

With support from a Rubenstein School Kate Svitek Memorial Award, she returned to the Swan Valley homestead and served as a resident education assistant for students during Swan Valley’s six-week educational program “Wildlife in the West.” The program exposes participants to the issues of endangered wildlife species and human interaction. 

“This internship gave me the chance to explore the field of environmental education and strengthen my skills as an educator,” says Emily, who supported instructors with teaching material in the field. “I learned so much about what methods work best for me to connect with students, how to translate new information to them, and how to best keep so many moving parts in order.” 

Environmental education courses, including Birding for Change, a Rubenstein School service-learning course in which UVM students pair up with local elementary school students as birding buddies, bolstered Emily’s zest for teaching in the natural sciences. A semester as a teaching assistant in NR 1, the Rubenstein School’s introductory first-year natural history course, cemented her decision to seek a job in environmental education after graduation in May 2018. 

“It was rewarding to work with first-year students and support them as they navigated their first semester core course,” says Emily, who was one of a dozen Rubenstein Stewards selected as student leaders to foster community in the School. “I enjoy the hospitality field and meeting people from all over the world but gravitate toward environmental education as my career choice.”

After graduation, Emily will join Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Pennsylvania as a lead camp counselor for the summer.