ISU student selected to be student ambassador for U.S. Department of Interior

AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University sophomore has been named a U.S. Department of Interior student ambassador for the 2012-13 school year. Biology major Nicole Bradley, Harvey, Ill., is one of 22 students nationwide selected by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and the Interior Department  to promote the department's internships and job opportunities on Iowa State's campus.

The Partnership created the Student Ambassadors Program in response to research that found the best messengers to reach students about federal employment opportunities are their peers. The organization partners with more than 750 campuses and 75 federal agencies.

As a student-recruiter, Bradley is an on-campus resource for information about diverse departmental occupations, including biologists, fish and wildlife administrators, park rangers, education specialists, program analysts and public affairs specialists. Collaborating with career services offices and faculty members, she provides interested students with tips on where to find and how to land positions within the agency.

To be eligible for the ambassador program, students must complete an internship with one of 10 of the department's bureaus.

During high school, Bradley attended two summer Turtle Camps. Fredric Janzen, an Iowa State professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, has conducted the six-week research expedition along the Mississippi River for more than 25 years.

"My mentor Jeramie Strickland, who is a wildlife biologist, told me about the opportunity to work with turtles," Bradley said. "I'd always had an interest in biology, so I was willing to try Turtle Camp in high school."

One thing led to another, and Bradley ended up attending Iowa State.

"Iowa State has a really good biology program, and I like the campus a lot," she said.

This past summer Bradley held an internship position with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson, Ill. She worked with Strickland on a project to rebuild the Ornate box turtle population.

"During my time as an intern, I was fortunate to have experienced many wonderful opportunities and certifications, including recognition by the National Association for Interpretation as an Interpretive Guide," she said.

According to the Partnership, federal agencies have trouble attracting students because of a lack of knowledge about job opportunities and how to apply for them.

"The Ambassadors program is a win-win for federal agencies and student job seekers looking to make a difference," said federal jobs expert Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service. "It’s a low-cost and effective way for agencies to reach top students and fill mission-critical job and internship openings."

"As ambassadors, we get constant training online and have weekly coaching calls," Bradley said.

"Next semester, I plan on finding more opportunities to talk to students," she said. "I'll be at the spring Career Fair and Club Fest to get the word out. And I'll send job announcements to students."

Bradley is a graduate of Thornton Township High School in Harvey.