U.S. Coast Guard Capt. John Caplis addresses the attendees at last year’s Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. Photo courtesy: WSYE.
HOLT — This summer, Holt High School senior Emily Danks will have a different opportunity than most of her classmates.
The Holt, MI, resident recently was selected to participate in the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, a national environmental policy conference scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C, from June 24-29.
The conference, hosted by George Mason University, brings together high school students from across the country to discuss and learn about environmental problems, policy solutions and career opportunities in the field, said the program’s director, Richard Friesner.
Danks said she was thrilled to accept the invitation.
“I read their acceptance email and my jaw hit the floor,” she said.
Danks added she is most looking forward to learning about environmental conservation and how she might get involved as a young leader at the conference.
“I have always had a love for nature and to be given the chance to attend WYSE … is really amazing,” she said.
Friesner said students also have the opportunity to hear from and meet with distinguished scholars and researchers in the field of environmental study, as well as lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Friesner said speakers at the conference are expected to include representatives from the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
He added the conference partners with National Geographic and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.
It was no easy road for Danks to get into the program, she said.
Friesner said each student must go through a process that includes a personal essay and an examination of standardized test scores.
“In addition to that, we also like to see students that are involved in leadership activities,” he said.
Each student also has to be nominated to attend the conference, he said.
Danks’ high school counselor, Bob Bower, said she has many qualities that make her an ideal fit for the program, including her academic success and willingness to volunteer.
Bower said Danks takes honors classes and maintains above a 3.5 GPA.
“(Danks) is very conscientious,” he said. “(She) wants everything done right and done in a specific way.”
He also said she tends to volunteer first in many of her classes when it comes to activities and said her writing abilities also help her stand out.
“(She’s) mature beyond her chronological age,” he said. “Hopefully, she’s going to be able to do some great things.”