My name is Peyton, and I am a Conservation Across Boundaries 2022 alumni! I study Wildlife Biology with a minor in Environmental studies at the University of Vermont. I am from upstate New York, where I grew up appreciating the natural world around me. Studying at the University of Vermont allows me to learn about issues I care about, sometimes through place-based education, and be surrounded by like-minded people.
I was expecting a similar experience in Montana, but it was even better than I could have imagined. The landscape in Western Montana was so different from what I’d experienced before. The vast stretches of undeveloped land were foreign to me, being from the East Coast. There was a diversity of experiences and values among my peers, guest speakers, instructors, and locals. This is the aspect of my trip that helped me grow the most. I had also never been backpacking before, and by the end of the course, I could say I am a confident backcountry traveler.
I learned so many things about conservation, people’s stances on conservation issues, ecology, and myself. I changed in ways I never thought were possible. I thoroughly practiced critical thinking, listening, and resilience. My comfort zone expanded so much. I became aware of my limitations (or lack thereof). I made friends that I will continue to learn from for as long as I can foresee. The instructors were incredible; they are extraordinary role models who made me feel encouraged and supported in a way I never have before.
I am so grateful for my time with WRFI. It was a unique experience that has affected my trajectory in life. I am excited to be an ambassador, and I welcome you to reach out if you have any questions!