New InternsZach Smith arrived in Paonia just in time to escape the blistering summer heat of Santa Fe, N.M., where he wrote for the Santa Fe Reporter and volunteered for the Audubon Society, teaching elementary school kids the basics of geology and birding. A Denver native who has lived in six states and studied abroad in England, Zach is glad to be back in Colorado.
Zach’s fascination with the West’s environment — and the complex challenges facing it — stems from studying environmental history and geology at Washington University in St. Louis. Last year, as a senior, he wrote his thesis on the nation’s planned nuclear burial ground at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.
As a general assignment scribe for the Reporter this spring, Zach tackled issues ranging from local archaeology, to the Earth Liberation Front’s attacks on SUVs in New Mexico, to Indian tribes’ attempts to recover oil and gas royalties owed them by the federal government.
When not toiling away at the office, Zach climbs rocks, and hopes this summer to scale one of Colorado’s 14,000 foot-high peaks. That goal might not be so remarkable if it weren’t for Zach’s fear of heights: "The only way to overcome it," he says, "is to force yourself to do it."
If you ask new HCN intern Dan Wilcock where he’s from, his programmed response is "the D.C. metro area." However, with a little prodding, he’ll reveal he has lived on four continents; the first four years of his life in Burkina Faso, followed by high school in Morocco, a semester abroad in Switzerland, a summer in Rome, and a particularly formative year in Japan. During breaks from teaching English in Japan, Dan traveled around the country, reading the newspaper every morning, and, he says, he "put two and two together: Journalism involves constant exploring, and challenges the mind."
Dan returned to the Washington, D.C., area, where he completed a master’s in journalism at the University of Maryland. He focused on environmental issues because of their complexity and his partiality to the outdoors. Dan was a finalist for the Investigative Reporters and Editors journalism competition in the student category for a story on growing number of untreated sewage spills in Maryland. His writing on Chesapeake Bay ecology has appeared in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.
Dan decided to leave the East Coast "with its adequate water supply," and come west to continue exploring.