Notes from the Field: Elena Bird '18

Elena Bird ’18 interned with Representative Ann Kuster for the Summer of 2017 term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

During the Summer of 2017, I interned for Representative Ann Kuster in her Washington D.C. office. Representative Kuster has taken on many difficult issues affecting the state; she sits on the House Agriculture and Veteran’s Affairs Committees and is a founding member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence.

As one of three interns in Rep. Kuster’s office, I helped with constituent correspondence, gave tours of the capitol, conducted research for the legislative team, helped the office with event set ups, and attended hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill. Furthermore, access to the myriad of hearings and briefings for the Senate and the House was one of the highlights of my internship. Each hearing was thought-provoking, often positively, but nearly as often illuminating issues of our time. Of the hearings I attended, two remained most prominently in my mind. One was held by the Senate Committee on Indian affairs and the other, by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The former discussed the Johnson-O’Malley Supplementary Education Fund, a program supplying funds for Native American students enrolled in public school to provide school materials, tutoring, and other educational supplements. The latter hearing was about increasing water security and drought preparedness through infrastructure, management, and innovation. Witnesses discussed new technologies and studies for managing water amidst a changing climate.

I look forward to applying the skills I strengthened this summer, namely, critical thinking, reflection, and empathetic communication, to enhance my final year at Dartmouth. Newly gleaned perspectives will provide a different lens for my studies in Earth Science, my Middle Eastern Studies minor, and other courses I may take. Beyond this, applying academic material to our current society and environment is important, particularly as I transition out of an academic institution and into the “real” world. In the past few years, I have considered the idea of a career in science policy, perhaps through legislative work or lobbying. I feel more prepared and inspired than ever to pursue this now that I understand the decision making processes that occur on Capitol Hill. I am incredibly grateful to the Rockefeller Intern Program for allowing me this invaluable experience that has undoubtedly helped shape the way I view the world and my role within it.