My Story of Giving Back to Idaho
My U of I Experiences Took Me Across the Country and Back Home Again
As a proud and active alumna, I look back on my years at the University of Idaho with gratitude. The person and professional I am today was influenced by many experiences. So many of these experiences also gave me lifelong mentors and friends.
My connection to the campus experience cultivated a curiosity to see how I might connect and make a difference in my community. I just needed to find out where that community would be.
Shortly after graduation, I was hired by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as a public affairs specialist in Boise. At first, the job was contingent on me still being a student, so what better way to continue my U of I experience than to get a master’s degree? The rest is history.
Since 2012, my career as a public servant has moved me cross-country not once but twice, from Boise to headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Sacramento, California, and now back to the Gem State. My new role as the deputy chief of external affairs for BLM Fire and Aviation at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is an exciting new chapter.
The public lands connection in Idaho is significant. BLM Idaho alone manages nearly 12 million acres of public lands. For example, in partnership with U of I, the BLM works closely with the Idaho Rangeland Center, part of the College of Natural Resources, using science to find long-term solutions for managing rangeland. The BLM and U of I are also connecting youth to public lands through the 4-H Youth Development program as part of U of I Extension. Since the partnership began in 2009, over 300 wild horses have been adopted into good homes, over 500 4-H members have developed wild horse handling skills, and more than $43,000 has been raised for Idaho 4-H clubs.
Looking back at my college years, it’s easy to see how my U of I experiences and education prepared me to succeed in the public affairs industry. Having a strong network, investing in relationships and working hard are qualities that I built upon during and after college. Public affairs is a dynamic profession, where every day is a little different, combining government relations, media communications and strategic outreach.
As a part of the Vandal Family, I’m always happy to share my Vandal story. Came a tribe from the north, brave and bold! Go Vandals!
Sam’s U of I Involvement
- Associated Students University of Idaho vice president
- Pi Beta Phi Sorority
- Alternative Service Breaks
- Lobbied at the Idaho State Legislature for higher education
- Represented at the Model United Nations Conference in New York City
- Member of the Homecoming Committee
- Student Alumni Relations Board
Article by Samantha Storms
Published in the spring 2020 issue of Here We Have Idaho.