Local pair named to Demmer Scholars Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two area men who currently attend Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University were named to the 2013 Demmer Scholars Program. Jackson Ciofu, a 2011 Escanaba graduate, and Christopher LaMarche, a 2010 Gladstone graduate were honored to be among 15 Michigan State University students to receive this prestigious honor. The Demmer Scholar program is part of the Boone and Crockett Club’s mission to help students experience the public policy decision-making that is key to preserving the natural resources in North America. The program provides opportunities for students to study federal policy-making while working full-time during the summer in Washington, DC as paid interns at federal and non-governmental organizations focused on natural resources.

The program is led by Mark Rey, executive in residence in the MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Mark is the former undersecretary of natural resources and agriculture under the George W. Bush administration and also served as a timber industry lobbyist.

“The course reviews and analyzes how each branch of federal government, as well as non-governmental groups – including the media – affect the development and implementation of federal government policy in the natural resources area,” said Rey.

“Through these internships, the students get real-world experience, see classroom principles applied in practice and make valuable career contacts for educational and employment opportunities in the future,” said Rey. “Since we started the program, 20 alumni got jobs in D.C. This program gives the participating universities a cadre of young natural resources leaders with experience in federal policy-making.” ( csis.msu.edu/news/2013_demmer_scholars)

Jackson Ciofu was provided the opportunity to intern for the Forest Service, Office of Legislative Affairs. Christopher LaMarche interned for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry which is chaired by Michigan’s Senator Debbie Stabenow. This is the same committee that worked on the recently signed Farm Bill. Chris was fortunate enough to be awarded a ticket to watch President Obama sign this bill into law on the campus of Michigan State University.

Besides working full-time, once a week their class met with various people who have been involved with or responsible for some of the public policy decisions that are key to our history. Probably most notable, they had the honor of spending time with Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. They also learned about the Watergate Scandal while at the Watergate Hotel on the anniversary day of when it occurred. They visited the home of Gifford Pinchot who is known as being the first person to advocate for managed forestry. They were also able to visit the White House to visit Doug McKalip, the Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs, among other highlights.

Sometimes, just by chance, they also met people who influenced their childhood. Chris relayed a story about dropping in at a reception for the anniversary of the Mar’s Rover that was being held in the Senate Building where he worked. “I looked across the room,” said Chris, “and there was Bill Nye, the Science Guy! I had met a lot of Senators and other dignitaries by this time, but I never felt more nervous than when I knew I was now going to get to meet a hero from my childhood.”

Through their experiences, the men were able to see Washington in a way that is not often portrayed in the mainstream news-media that makes their bread and butter talking about controversies and scandals rather than the mundane tasks of running a country . Jackson commented, “I always thought Congress was just a spectacle. Now I realize that there are a lot of talented and dedicated individuals who spend their lives working with the spectacle to make the Nation a better place.”

Both men also happen to be Eagle Scouts.

Jackson is pursuing a degree in history, philosophy, and sociology of science. Jackson is the son of Monique Ciofu of Escanaba.

Chris will graduate this spring with a degree in microbiology and genetics with an emphasis in public policy. He plans to pursue a graduate degree while seeking opportunities to serve the public through the legislative process. Chris is the son of Gary and Laura LaMarche of Gladstone.