The Wildest Job
Internship Gives Students Chance to Work at Taylor Wilderness Research Station
Clayton Christensen is from Meridian, one of the fastest-growing cities in Idaho, but he jumped at the chance to spend his summer scanning cliffsides for bighorn sheep in one of the most remote areas of the country.
Christensen, a sophomore in environmental science, undertook a 10-week internship in summer of 2019 at the Taylor Wilderness Research Station deep in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. It’s the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.
“I wanted an experience where I could do some actual hands-on research and enjoy the beauty this state has to offer,” he said. “I found that in this internship.”
No other university has a property quite like Taylor — also known as “America’s Wildest Classroom.” Accessible only by plane or a three-day hike, the research station is surrounded by 4 million acres of wilderness. It’s home to Semester in the Wild, a program that allows students to study wilderness while living in it and earning 17 credits through subjects such as ecology, environmental writing and wilderness management. Taylor also hosts a variety of research projects, including studies on wildlife, plants, stream ecology and wildfire impacts. Every summer, students help advance these research activities through internships funded by the DeVlieg Foundation and alumna Clara Bleak '46.
I wanted an experience where I could do some actual hands-on research and enjoy the beauty this state has to offer. Clayton Christensen
Christensen was one of six interns at Taylor this year. His summer work was part of a bighorn sheep population monitoring project. Since he hopes to go on to graduate school, he said he’s especially grateful for the opportunity to do research at Taylor.
“This experience helped foster my love for the outdoors and confirmed my desire to pursue a career in preserving these precious resources for the future,” he said.
Article by Sara Zaske, College of Natural Resources
Published in the Fall 2019 issue of Here We Have Idaho.