By Kate Kirlin, American Forests

I have been taking pictures nonstop for as long as I can remember. When I was gifted my first DSLR camera, I never put it down. My love of photography evolved in to a love for film. I grew up watching Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and any nature documentary I could find. It occurred to me that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to share my conservation message through photography and film.

College brought about new opportunities for me that I could have never imagined. My very first year, I was able to travel to a remote rainforest reserve in Nicaragua, along the border of Costa Rica. For a week I immersed myself in the culture and unfamiliar environment of the rainforest, always towing a camera. I worked closely with local elementary and high school students to educate them on the importance of conservation.

While at American University, I was exposed to a critical need for action against pollution, deforestation and climate change. Being surrounded by professional environmental policy makers, award-winning wildlife documentarians and fellow students in my field has deepened my understanding of the importance of our environment.

Over the years my passion to protect the environment has only grown. Knowing that I have always wanted to share my message of conservation, American Forests seemed like the perfect fit for me. I am so delighted to spend my spring semester as a multimedia intern at American Forests. I know that this community will give me the experience I need to make an impact on a national scale.