During Summer 2017, CTNC hired 19 interns for full-time, 10-week, paid internships through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program (DCIP) to provide hands-on opportunities for students to gain the skills and experience necessary for a successful career in conservation. The program aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity within conservation organizations and engagement with groups underrepresented in conservation careers. Meet Khrystle Bullock, a 2017 intern with the United States Forest Service.
“I come from a health background, and I know through my studies and research how the environment plays a part in everyone’s health regardless of race, socioeconomic status…having a healthy environment impacts your own well-being and quality of life.”
Khrystle Bullock, a 2017 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program (DCIP) intern, is spending her summer in Washington D.C. working for the United States Forest Service as one of their Conservation Education interns. Her daily activities include plenty of meetings that have her running around the nation’s capital, which she doesn’t mind one bit.
“I love it! I personally love the busyness of it.” She said in a recent interview.
During these meetings Bullock is collaborating with partners from agencies to nonprofits. She’s even met with researchers studying urban forestry to discuss how the field overlaps with public health to help Forest Service initiatives reach multiple demographics.
“I care about people—especially populations and communities that are underserved. I’m concentrating in health disparities and health equities, so I’m really an advocate for public service and helping communities. I’m trying to connect the dots between how conservation, environmental health, and public health overall intertwine to promote human health.”
Bullock received her bachelors in public health from UNC-Charlotte followed by her masters in Neuroscience with a concentration in health disparities and equities from Wake Forest. She’s passionate about community outreach combined with conservation.
“I want to advocate for neglected urban communities where local residents may not have a voice to bring some of their issues to the forefront.”
One of her favorite days of her internship involved bringing the Forest Service’s Propelling Pollinator program to D.C. public schools. It gave her the opportunity to work with local kids in the community, teaching them the value of pollinators and how pollinators support food production for people. She enjoyed “seeing the lights go on” when teaching the kids.
When she’s not leading meetings or teaching through programs, Bullock likes to head to local parks to play Ultimate Frisbee. And when she can escape the city?
“I’d be in the mountains hiking. I love hiking!”
Khrystle heard about DCIP through talking to friends and her own research, and she feels she has gained something invaluable.
“I’ve gained a lot of mentors; finding a mentor is one of the biggest bonuses of this internship. Minus the exposure and the experience, everyone is very helpful and want to help connect you to the right people.”
She checks in with each of her four mentors at least once a week either by phone or face-to-face.
“Graduating in May I’ve been in that student mindset, so really its getting a taste of how the real world works, getting a sense of better planning methods, program implementation.”
As for a future in conservation?
“As long as it can keep me in the realm of community health and tying in health components, I definitely would stay in the field of conservation. I believe from my experience that the conservation field is trying to think of innovative ways to bring all people to the table.”
CTNC and our partners are proud to cultivate and provide support to our future conservation leaders. We can’t wait to see how Khrystle and the rest of the 2017 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program participants continue to advocate for conservation and works to save the places you love across North Carolina!
About CTNC’s Emerging Leaders Program
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Emerging Leaders Program helps connect young people to the outdoors where they can establish a lifelong appreciation for the natural world and an understanding of the critical benefits that land and water conservation provides. Through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, CTNC AmeriCorps, NC Youth Conservation Corps, and Future Leaders of Conservation advisory board, CTNC creates employment pathways by connecting young people to academic studies and careers in conservation. Learn more at www.ctnc.org/connect/emergingleaders.