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Biology grad works to shape public policy for land management

A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire biology graduate seized an opportunity to get involved in protecting and managing existing wilderness areas by representing the next generation of policy advisers and public land professionals at the Second Biennial Student Congress on Public Policy for Land Management held in Arizona.

Brielle Cummings, Plainfield, was selected from students across the country to take part in the student congress, which focused on three main topics regarding public lands and wilderness policy: education and engagement; resource management; and employment. The students presented their policy recommendations to State Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials at the conclusion of the congress.

"Each area of recommendation was met with different obstacles and required collaboration from all members of the congress," said Cummings, who graduated in May 2014. "My course work in the sciences and the liberal arts education I gained at UW-Eau Claire supported a well-rounded point of view that I was able to use to approach different problems and topics to help reach a solution. Also, the experience I gained working with professors and community members while at UW-Eau Claire gave me the confidence and professionalism to work with peers and industry professionals at the conference."

Dr. Garry Running, professor of geography and anthropology, nominated Cummings for the student congress.

"Brielle has excelled as a student and as a leader," Running said. "She dives into new experiences and works hard to get the most out of learning opportunities. I have seen her work in teams where she can be counted on to do her part, and I've seen her take the lead as well. I was confident she would be an asset to the conference."

Cummings recently completed a seasonal position with Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council, a nonprofit conservation group from central Wisconsin, where she worked with aquatic invasive species surveys and public outreach.

"I want to continue working in the natural resource field either with land management or water resources," Cummings said. "No matter where I end up, I know that working with the people in the community is one of the most important goals of any position and can be one of the most valued."