High Country News welcomes new interns

  • Neil LaRubbio and Danielle Venton, HCN's latest editorial interns, are ready to take on tough Western issues.

    Shaun C. Gibson

Two new editorial interns just joined us for six months of "journalism boot camp" at our Paonia, Colo., office. Danielle Venton was born in Petaluma, Calif. Early backpacking trips sparked her curiosity about the natural world, which eventually led her to study biology at Humboldt State University. Unlike her classmates, Danielle couldn't settle on just one organism to study for the rest of her career, so after graduating in 2005, she left California in search of new challenges.

In 2006, she interned at the federal research facility Fermilab, then became an editor and writer at CERN in Switzerland, interviewing diplomats, physicists and computer scientists. In 2011, she finished a one-year certificate in science communication at UC Santa Cruz, interned at WIRED and freelanced for KUSP public radio.

At HCN, Danielle will continue to gain fluency on Western issues. And she'll get back in the saddle again. Last summer, a horse bucked her off in California's Desolation Wilderness. Despite the pain of a broken collarbone, she slept that night under a lean-to and hiked out 10 miles the next morning. She says she'll ride again this spring; we're thinking about wrapping her in pillows first, though.

Neil LaRubbio joins HCN with a master's in journalism from the University of Montana, where he graduated last spring. Neil's written for both Bugle Magazine and HCN ("Lack of medical care on the firelines endangers firefighters," 10/17/11). He also co-founded a documentary film company, Highway Goat Productions, and is working on a project about riding the rails.

After gaining a degree in radio, television and film from the University of Texas, Austin in 2003, he and one of his brothers came west in search of work and adventure. They climbed mountains, spotted grizzlies and rode ornery horses with friends on the Blackfeet Reservation.

While working in Yellowstone, Neil met his future wife, Jessica. The couple camped their way through Spain and Scotland, taught English in Prague and Korea, and married in 2008. Returning to Montana, Neil worked as a wildland firefighter and decided to finally pursue journalism full-tilt.

Neil says he'd like to write the way the legendary jazz musician Charles Mingus played, with momentum and sophistication. He's joined in Paonia by Jessica and their young son, Nico.

We're also happy to announce that Marian Lyman Kirst, an outstanding intern from the previous session, will remain with us as an editorial fellow for five months, after her honeymoon. For more on our internship program, see our internship page.

The wolves that Jim and Jamie Dutcher filmed for their documentaries, "Wolves at Our Door" and "Living With Wolves" -- mentioned in HCN's Nov. 14 cover story, "Possessing the Wild: An Exploration of the World of Captive Wolves" -- were donated by people in Montana and Minnesota. The primary donor felt that the animals would do more to advance the understanding of wolves as the subject of an educational documentary than if they lived their lives confined on her property. No wolves have ever been purchased by the Dutchers or their nonprofit organization, Living with Wolves. The only time the Dutchers conducted financial business with Triple D, a game ranch in Kalispell, Mont., was to photograph a mountain lion at Triple D, years before the wolf documentary project.

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