Wyss Scholar Alumnus: Alex Johnson
After nearly a decade of working seasonally on trail crews across the western US and Alaska, I enrolled in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana – Missoula. Upon becoming a Wyss Scholar, I for the first time committed to not only stewarding the incredible public lands of our nation, but also leading advocacy campaigns on their behalf.
With a background in environmental writing and a certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution from the University of Montana, I moved to western Colorado. There, I began freelancing for environmental publications like High Country News, while also organizing communications and defense campaigns for the Western Slope Conservation Center, a regional grassroots organization. After a few years with the organization, I was hired on as the Executive Director and served in that role for nearly four years. During that time, I co-founded the Leadership Council of the Friends Grassroots Network, which includes grassroots organizations that work on protecting spectacular Bureau of Land Management lands across the intermountain West. During my time with the Western Slope Conservation Center, we doubled our membership, successfully defended the landscapes of the North Fork of the Gunnison from expansive oil and gas lease sales, and raised the profile of the landscape across the country with diverse local, regional, and national partners.
Most recently, I have taken on the new challenge of protecting the national parks and preserves in Alaska as the Alaska Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. It’s a fantastic opportunity to use all of the skills, education, and experience I’ve gained over my career to make lasting impacts on some of the largest intact ecosystems on Earth.
Without the Wyss Scholar program, I may not have had the skills, confidence, or financial freedom to step up into leadership positions within the conservation community. Building a career in the field takes a lot of guts, dedication, inspiration, and support from a network of friends, family, and colleagues. I am grateful for the opportunity that the Wyss Scholar program has provided, and I am glad it will be continuing to cultivate leaders for this historic moment for the West.