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Environmental Studies Public Interest

From Interim Dean Andrew Giacomazzi

Environmental Studies at Boise State

Many of the most pressing issues of our time have an environmental component. Environmental factors impact our health, energy resources, agriculture, and even our tourism and recreational activities.

In this issue of Public Interest, we’ll introduce you to our Environmental Studies program. You’ll meet impressive students who have big plans to apply what they learn at Boise State in ways that make our communities healthier and better. Our program director Emily Wakild will tell us about the exciting opportunities our students have during their program as well as after graduation. We’ll also share an innovative class about Public Lands. And we’ll even talk about llamas.

Thanks for your interest in the work that our faculty and students are doing right now to make our future brighter. And we invite you to support our outstanding young scholars as they study the world around us, learn valuable skills inside and outside of the classroom, and learn to serve in the public interest.

Thanks for reading,
Andy Giacomazzi, Interim Dean of the School of Public Service

Andrus Scholars

Eye on Student Success

The Andrus Scholars Program awards scholarships each year to outstanding Boise State University students focused on environmental studies. It provides internships at federal, state, non-profit, and other mission centered business enterprises that provide meaningful work experience to enhance learning and skill development. Amanda Grimsted, Cheyon Sheen, and Maggi Szelez are Andrus Scholars with an Environmental Studies degree focus and are funded by our generous Andrus Scholars Fund donors.

Meet the 2021 Andrus Scholars on the Andrus Center website

Support student success! Donate to support our Andrus Scholars

Academics Talking Academics in Elevators

In another exciting edition of Academics Talking Academics in (virtual) elevators, School of Public Service Interim Dean Andy Giacomazzi and Environmental Studies program lead Dr. Emily Wakild discuss:

  • What makes now such a great time to study the environment?
  • Why is Boise State the perfect place to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies?
  • How did a professor of history become so interested in Environmental Studies?
  • What career opportunities exist for someone with a degree in Environmental Studies?
  • What are Andrus Scholars and how can viewers support these students?
Watch Academics Talking Academics in Elevators on our YouTube channel
A tribute to Dr. John Freemuth

Public Lands: Past, Present and Future

In Fall of 2020, our colleague John Freemuth, University Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Cecil D. Andrus Professor of Environment and Public Lands, was scheduled to teach a Public Lands Class for undergraduates in the Environmental Studies program. He passed away suddenly on May 2nd. Instead of cancelling the class, a team of colleagues and students decided to reinvent it as a tribute to John and a conversation about the past, present, and future of public lands. They called on his incredible network of friends and experts on public lands by inviting twenty-five individuals to prepare talks for the twenty students enrolled in the course and to preserve and share after the class. The talks were recorded and are available for the public to view on the website of the Andrus Center.

Check out Public Lands Past Present and Future on the Andrus Center Website
May 13 – 9 a.m. - noon – $10

Energy, Salmon, Agriculture and Community: REVISITED

Two years after the Andrus Center for Public Policy convened the conference: Energy, Salmon, Agriculture, and Community: Can We Come Together? the Pacific Northwest has made significant progress toward bipartisan solutions.

On Thursday, May 13, the Andrus Center will host a two-year check-in virtual event to consider where we are now and how to keep progress moving. The conference is scheduled as a half-day online event and will be followed by a summary report.

Register for the conference on the Andrus Center website

Student Spotlight - Kenny Huston

What made you decide that Environmental Studies was the degree that you wanted to pursue?

Growing up, I’ve always had a deep connection with the environment – from camping almost every weekend of summer months, to finding an excuse to be outside every chance I got. I was not an indoorsy person. In High School, I took Advanced Placement Environmental Studies and was caught off guard for what a dire situation our planet is in. In this class, it was while watching a documentary that showed an interview of an Australian cattle rancher who was forced to put down his herd due to climate change, that I decided to spend my life and career dedicated to preventing further damage to the planet, and ensuring security of basic needs such as water and food.

What are some of your interests and activities outside of the classroom? How do you manage your time?

Outside of the classroom, I am the ASBSU (Student Government) President, a student employee in the Dean of Students Office, a collegiate soccer referee, a rock climber, and a frequent player in the intramural leagues with groups of friends. Managing time has definitely become difficult in the past year or so which means sacrificing opportunities to be able to successfully complete others. Prioritizing what needs to get done over fun things is the only way I get by – making time for fun and mental health is also a big part of being all around successful too!

Tell us about any learning experiences you’ve had outside the classroom in the Environmental Studies program.

Outside of being an Environmental Studies Major, I also have minors in Economics, Sustainability, and Climate Studies, with a certificate in Human Rights. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to grow in my roles in ASBSU and the Dean of Students Office, but also in my internship with Campus Sustainability as an “Eco-Rep.” Being in each of these positions has opened doors to conversations to make change in the community, and start conversations to innovate how things are accomplished. This summer I plan to be an intern in a California State Senator’s Office where I hope to continue learning about myself and how to elicit positive change.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learned in the Environmental Studies program?

In the Environmental Studies Program, I’ve learned how policy is implemented and how real change happens. The policies and laws that give us standards of what we should be doing don’t always make it clear how to achieve them. Environmental Studies, through experience based learning, has given me a high level overview in what to expect in the future.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After undergrad, I hope to continue at Boise State in the Masters for Public Administration Program. Careerwise, my end goal is working with the United Smart Cities sustainability goal of the UN. How I get there is for the future to decide, but I look forward to the journey and where it will take me.


Llamas are enjoying celebrity status in the U.S., but they’ve been a big deal in Latin America for centuries. In a recent article in The Blue Review, Environmental Studies program lead Emily Wakild discusses the fascinating history of the human/llama relationship.


Read more in The Blue Review