PWSC: What got you interested in the PWSC Outdoor Studies program?
Casey: After High School, I wanted to find a small college somewhere exciting and new to get my associates degree. My sights were originally in Oregon, but with a little research, I found Prince William Sound College. Valdez, Alaska, is a stunning place and very challenging to explore. The college made pursuing this experiential kind of learning accessible, while still providing classes that are core to a well-rounded education such as philosophy, literature, anthropology, and (ugh) math.
PWSC: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Casey: I’m originally from Boise, Idaho, and from a young age I loved to go hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains with my family. As I grew older my family went on less outdoor outings so it spurred me to find outdoor jobs during the summer months when I was off from school. During those summers I worked in Utah with a couple of river guiding companies taking care of their warehouses and any odd jobs they had. In return, I got to go on a few rafting trips and learn from the best as I explored the southwestern landscape. One summer I even ended up in Wyoming on a dude ranch for three months, which was a whole different adventure entirely. When the chance came up to move to Alaska I couldn’t say no.”
PWSC: Tell me about your coursework and in what ways has it been relevant to your internship with BLM?
Casey: I can say that working with the BLM has been one of the easier job learning experiences I have had. In previous outdoor positions the learning curve had been steep, but with the BLM I have gotten to build upon a good foundation of what I have learned from PWSC. For example, I have taken three courses at PWSC that have taught me over a dozen knots and the use of pulley systems in multiple outdoor applications. Neither knots or pulley systems are easy to learn. During swift water training with the BLM, I was able to practice advanced knots and advanced pulley systems while others struggled with the basics as they were doing it for the first time. That is my most specific example but the classes at PWSC have well prepared me for travel and overnight excursions into Alaska’s backcountry. Philosophy class and other courses have allowed me to take a meaningful look at how we manage our backcountry and what it means for the people who use it. Working for the BLM is an incredible experience and adventure and a great capping point for my time in Alaska and at PWSC.
Pictured: Casey Howard rafting on the Gulkana Wild and Scenic River. Casey participated in the Copper River Stewardship Project (CRSP). CRSP is a 10 day program for 10 youth in grades 9-12 (High School).