Kelly van Frankenhuyzen, master’s student in the School of Journalism, has been named as the Hal and Jean Glassen Memorial Foundation – Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Conservation and Environmental Leadership Fellow.
“Conservation and environmental leadership have always been important to me,” van Frankenhuyzen said. “I was raised on a farm, with parents who shared their knowledge about conservation and protection of environmental resources with me. Throughout my life, conservation has played an important role in how I developed as a leader. I like to lead by example, often performing tasks like riding my bike or practicing ‘leave no trace’ when out in the wilderness. I have done a lot of work teaching students about the importance of conservation and protecting our natural resources, as that was ingrained from the beginning of my life when my parents set a good example for me. That stuck with me and has remained important in my life as I became an adult.”
She is an environmental journalism student who currently works for the U.S. Forest Service as their first social media intern. In this role, van Frankenhuyzen is responsible for working closely with researchers to produce podcasts and social media messages that reach a wide variety of audiences. Additionally, she is working with experts from MSU and Ohio State University to create a website about the future of ash trees and the invasive emerald ash borer.
“Through various multi-media components, I expect to reach an audience of landowners and educators on a local, regional, national, and possibly, international, level,” van Frankenhuyzen said. “These experts started researching this topic in the early 2000s, providing important data, allowing me to present a fair and balanced website. Forests and ash are important resources that need community investment and leadership from many individuals.”
She believes that leadership is a critical skill to learn throughout life and requires continuous practice in a variety of settings.
“I have held many leadership roles, and through those experiences, believe leadership takes confidence, team and community involvement, as well as bringing diverse sectors together to help solve problems,” van Frankenhuyzen said. “Leadership is also about taking chances and acknowledging your mistakes.”
Volunteer experiences have allowed van Frankenhuyzen to gain leadership skills in both individual and team environments. These skills were acquired as a participant in and eight-day Colorado Outward Bound trip; serving as a Peace Corps volunteer; and working through AmeriCorps for the Montana Conservation Corps.
“Through these volunteer opportunities, I became better educated about conservation issues as well as a catalyst for change,” van Frankenhuyzen said. “These life-changing experiences gave me a new perspective on what it means to lead today. It also inspired me to continue public engagement and develop strong networks to promote action for critical changes. Experiences with an emphasis on leadership can help solve problems differently in our world.”
She plans to use the $2,500 fellowship award to attend the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow Program (CLfT). CLfT is a professional development program designed for student and professional leaders within the natural resource sciences. CLfT focuses on hunting awareness and conservation education among academic programs and government agencies. CLfT consists of four-day workshops that blend interactive classroom discussion with field experiences. Workshop participants engage with leading natural resource professionals and conservationists in a highly interactive educational setting.
“This award is very important to me because I grew up protecting my family’s natural resources on the 40 acres of land they owned,” van Frankenhuyzen said. “I believe we need more leaders in the conservation and environmental field to promote outreach and awareness of issues that can influence all living organisms down the road.”