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Outdoor Adventures Leader Secures National Park Service Internship

April 11 2022 10:00 AM | Trisha Torres ltorres3@tulane.edu

Sam Hilburn Standing on a Mountain

For Tulane senior and Outdoor Adventures Leader Samantha Hilburn, all roads after graduation lead to Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Convenient, as these 6 million acres of wild lands converge on a single stretch of highway. Hilburn, graduating in May with a B.S. in Geology & Environmental Studies and B.A. in Economics, has been selected as a member of the National Park Service’s Scientists in the Parks program for summer 2022.

The Scientists in the Parks program is one of 15 National Park Service (NPS) internship opportunities and is coordinated in collaboration with the Stewards Individual Placements Program, Environment for the Americas, Ecological Society of America, and The Geological Society of America. Participating in an NPS internship affords aspiring professionals such as Hilburn an immersive work experience on projects relating to natural and cultural resource management and preservation.

Looking ahead, Hilburn will operate as a science communication intern for Denali National Park’s Murie Science and Learning Center. With spruce woodlands, high alpine tundras, snow-covered mountains, and North America's tallest peak to draw inspiration from, Hilburn will focus her efforts on direct and digital marketing, social media, stewardship, and constructing a new online Junior Ranger program.

“Personally and professionally, this experience is a dream job,” says Hillburn. “Working in science communication will integrate my interdisciplinary background in natural and social sciences to make groundbreaking discoveries accessible to the public, with a particular emphasis on youth education. I look forward to furthering the aim of the National Park Service to ‘preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.’"

Hilburn credits the support and hands-on experience she gained at Tulane as preparing her for her internship. After learning about the Scientists in the Parks program from a flyer posted on bulletin boards around the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, she was further encouraged by her professors and graduate student mentors to pursue the opportunity. Hilburn’s coursework in geology, economics, and environmental studies provides her with a multidisciplinary understanding of environmental problems, while her dual role as a manager and trip leader for Tulane Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Adventure team arms her with the career-development, leadership, teamwork, and other professional competencies necessary for her to succeed.

It’s been a long road from hiking and backpacking with family at a young age, to rigorously studying at Tulane and leading immersive outdoor experiences, to now. Hilburn extends her sincerest gratitude to everyone involved in her journey.

“My time at Tulane may be drawing to a close,” says Hilburn, “but I feel fully prepared for my next big adventure, thanks to friends and mentors in Campus Recreation. Outdoor Adventures helped me find my place and my people at Tulane.”