• A Fulbright winner.
  • Researching wildfire policies.
  • A history and politics degree holder.
  • Still supported by my Willamette professors.
  • A former U.S. Forest Service employee.

Kate D’Ambrosio’s forestry work during her time at Willamette helped her earn a Fulbright Grant to Australia.

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In Love with the Outdoors

Kate D'Ambrosio ’06 turned her passions for forestry and public policy into a career with the U.S. Forest Service.

Kate D'Ambrosio's jobs with the U.S. Forest Service have taken her to a wide array of locations: outside among the ponderosa pines of Montana, inside the federal government buildings of Washington, D.C., a Portland office in a region blanketed with Douglas fir.

Recently, D'Ambrosio '06 traveled across the world to Australia to spend a year researching wildfire response policies through a prestigious Fulbright Grant.

Continuing with an interest she developed at Willamette, she is studying the differences in the strategies Australia and the U.S. use to deal with the risks wildfires pose to communities.

Joining the Forest Service

D'Ambrosio got her first forestry related job the summer after her freshman year at Willamette, when she returned to her home state of Montana to join a wildland firefighting crew. The job piqued her interest in public land management.

When she came back to Willamette, she worked with environmental science Professor Joe Bowersox to learn more about fire and public lands, and during her junior year, she earned an internship in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Forest Service.

That same year, Willamette nominated her for a Truman Scholarship, a national grant of up to $30,000 for students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service, and she won.

Both opportunities set her up for two post-graduation positions in D.C.: a three-month fellowship assisting with environmental legislation for Montana Sen. Max Baucus, followed by a full-time job with the Forest Service in fire and aviation management.

Support from Willamette

D'Ambrosio credits her mentors at Willamette with helping her through every step of her journey.

"The professors at Willamette don't forget about you after you graduate," she says. "Monique Bourque in Student Academic Grants and Awards worked with me on my Fulbright application, as did several professors in the history and politics departments. They have a continued interest in their students. Their help and support has been invaluable."

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