Hello from Missoula! My name is Will Thelen and I’m very excited to be back at WRFI as a Campus Ambassador! I moved to Montana as a teenager and have becoming increasingly fascinated by the vast wildlands of the northern Rockies since then. In high school I had the opportunity to take a course where we planned a backpacking trip to the Sawtooth Wilderness to study its ecology and governing policies. This really sparked my interest in designated Wilderness and helped catalyze my decision to go to the University of Montana. I wasn’t sure what to major in at the time, but knew I wanted to keep exploring Montana and Idaho!
Shortly after arriving at UM I discovered WRFI and enrolled in the 2012 Alaska kayaking course up in the Tongass National Forest. The following year I was the intern on that course. These incredible experiences inspired me to continue studying and working in Wilderness. I graduated from UM in 2016 with a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and a minor in Wilderness Studies. Since then I’ve worked for Society for Wilderness Stewardship and the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation doing wilderness character monitoring and trail maintenance. This semester I am returning to the University of Montana as a post-bac student working towards a master’s in Environmental Engineering. I’m looking forward to connecting with other students interested in Wilderness and sharing with them the amazing opportunities WRFI has to offer!