Conservation Voters for Idaho’s Boards and Commissions Fellowship program is intended to develop the skills and capacity of Idaho leaders and build the power of underrepresented groups to serve on relevant boards and commissions.
The 2021 Boards and Commissions Fellowship program is well underway, and our fellows have been learning a lot when it comes to policy, how to serve on boards and commissions (and how to apply), and so much more. We wanted to start introducing you to some of these amazing individuals. This week’s feature is on Sarah Hendricks.
Before moving to Moscow, Idaho to pursue her Ph.D., Sarah Hendricks had only lived in big cities. Interested in involving herself deeper in her community, the northern Idaho town was a perfect introduction to political involvement. “It felt more comfortable to start at a smaller, local level than to dive right into state or federal level stuff,” Hendricks says.
“What I realized, is how much of an impact you can make at a local level.”
Joining a board or commission had been on Hendricks’ mind for a few years but she faced all the typical sources of confusion. “I had been hesitant because I’m not totally familiar with the process of applying,” she explains. “What is required of you typically, and what’s the workload?” she asks. “I just really don’t know much about the inner workings of these types of groups.”
CVI’s Boards and Commissions Fellowship was perfect for Hendricks, who is working with the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation as the Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Beyond the hard skills the program teaches fellows, Hendricks appreciates the emphasis on networking and connecting with other fellows and mentors.
“I don’t have many peers that are involved in their community in that capacity,” Hendricks says. “So I thought this sounded like an excellent program to … make more connections with other people who are at a similar level as I am.”
Like the other fellows, Hendricks sees very limited representation in politics, including on boards and commissions.
“The extremely vital part of the program is focusing on equity, and how environmental issues and social issues are not the same based on what you look like or where your background is,” she says. “The social justice component has just been so extremely important to me.”
Hendricks was trained as a scientist, but also has a background in gender studies. “Oftentimes, I see science and scientists want to go in this inclusive direction, but they treat it like a component.” The science field has treated inclusivity as another box to check, which hasn’t felt authentic or meaningful to Hendricks.
This fellowship is the next step in Hendricks’ advocacy journey. She’s eager to learn how to “make changes at a higher level that can actually positively impact the environment, and create a healthy, safe space for the wildlife, but also for humans.”
“For me,” Hendrick says, “being a conservation voter is being able to give a voice to the voiceless.”