Plaid Works

Bridget Flanery: A Summer in the Woods

“The environment is what I am deeply passionate about. I want to help people establish their connection with the environment and push them to be part of making it better and keeping it safe.” — Bridget Flanery

Bridget Flanery at Superior National Forest.Bridget Flanery at Superior National Forest.Alma College is a place populated by ambitious individuals. Bridget Flanery is no exception.

As Student Congress president, vice president of service for Alpha Phi Omega and an active member of Leaders for Environmental Awareness, Protection, and Sustainability (LEAPS), Bridget is involved all across campus. She also is a resident assistant and competes with the Model United Nations team.

Her ambition doesn’t stop at the end of the academic year. Since coming to Alma College, Bridget has spent one summer in India and another in the woods of Minnesota.

During the summer of 2017, Bridget and five other Alma College students traveled to India using a Posey-Global Leadership grant. While there, they taught middle school students about international awareness and helped facilitate a mock Model UN competition.

“I knew prior to this that I didn’t want to spend my life teaching kids,” says Bridget. “However, this experience made me realize the impact that I could make on students. I walked away with a new outlook on the progress that can be made on this level.”

Bees, Bats, Bears and a Moose

In summer 2018, Bridget did something more in alignment with her environmental studies major. She worked with the AmeriCorps Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, earning a leadership position on the Faces of Tomorrow crew. This crew was designed to aid underrepresented groups gain experience working in the natural resources field.

Bridget FlaneryBridget FlaneryBridget’s crew worked directly with the U.S. Forest Service in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota. She spent her summer on Minnesota’s north shore in a small town called Tofte. At the end of the program she had 420 hours of work experience. When combined with another 100 hours, this will earn her merit status for later government employment opportunities.

Bridget rotated through several departments while gaining a variety of experiences, including opportunities to work with the wildlife department through seeding for wildflowers and pulling invasive species. Other opportunities included wilderness first-aid and CPR training, surveying for bees and bats, along with becoming certified as a Class A sawyer.

“One of our tasks was habitat cutting for moose so that their antlers wouldn’t get tangled in the tree limbs,” says Bridget. “While doing so, we stumbled upon some bears and moose. This was my first time seeing a moose and they are beautiful animals.

“While I am not sure that I see myself doing something like this long-term, it gave me the knowledge and experience to say what I like about specific aspects of the work,” says Bridget. “I expect this will be beneficial as I work to transition these skills to other aspects of my life in the future.

Passionate for the Environment

“Three years ago, when I made my initial visit to Alma College, I had no idea that this is where I would end up,” says Bridget. “Something that Professor Borrello said to me that day changed my college search process. He said something to the effect of, ‘I am here to answer any questions that you have, whether or not you wind up coming to Alma College.’

Bridget in IndiaBridget in India“That was when I knew that I wanted to come to Alma College,” she says. “Regardless of what I was going to study, I knew that the faculty here really wanted to see students succeed. Knowing this has really pushed me to do everything that I can and want to do. I know that I will always have the support of my friends and the Alma College faculty backing me.”

Bridget plans to attend graduate school and work as an environmental consultant.

“The environment is what I am deeply passionate about,” says Bridget, a junior from Sparta. “Serving on Student Congress has taught me that I love helping others from a leadership position. I want to help people establish their connection with the environment and push them to be part of making it better and keeping it safe.”

Story published on November 07, 2018