Political Ambition: Xander Martin (CS4)
Jill Rennicke, Alumni Cordinator

One thing that Xander Martin (CS4) has always known is that he wanted to make a difference. He just wasn't sure how: until now. Originally attending the University of Colorado-Boulder and aiming for a degree in Environmental Studies with a Geology emphasis, Xander's life path changed with the November 8, 2016 Presidential election. "I had always known I wanted to do things to make a difference," Xander says, "but I was never sure whether to pursue the scientific side of things or the policy-making." After the contentious election, the choice was clear. "The election made me realize that through the policy side of things, the political arena, there was a more direct path to making change." So, Xander made his own change, switching his major to Environmental Law and signing on for an internship with the office of Senator Kerry Donovan, a democrat representing Colorado's Fifth District spanning much of Colorado's western slope including resort towns like Aspen, Vail, and Crested Butte, as well as several agriculture/resource based towns such as Delta where ranching and mining are still the lifeblood. The far-flung district also includes the headwaters of three major rivers - the Gunnison, the Arkansas, and the Colorado - and vast holdings of both state and federal public lands giving Xander a chance to work on issues pertaining to the natural resources, outdoor recreation, wildlife, and wilderness he loves. One of the biggest accomplishments of Senator Donovan so far during Xander's internship has been the passage of a bill creating the first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day to be held on May 20th. The statewide event is meant to both celebrate and bring more awareness to the beauty, economic value, and importance of public land in the state of Colorado and beyond. Recently Xander facilitated a live Skype interview with Senator Donovan and a cadre of politically-interested Conserve School students, just another way Xander is reaching out, using his voice, encouraging others to speak up, and making a difference.

Below, in his own words, Xander describes his experience working with Senator Donovan:

"I started working as an intern for Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan in January of this year. I had no idea what I was doing, why I was there, or what to expect. A few weeks earlier I made a radical change to my career path of earth sciences, and decided to explore the policy side of environmental issues. Over these last few months I have become immersed in politics, and policy related work. I have worked on everything from constituent outreach, to email organization, to legislative research, and more. The most fulfilling, long lasting project I've worked on this session has got to be our Colorado Public Lands Day effort. Senator Donovan passed a bill last session that established the first ever Colorado Public Lands Day, and its coming up this May. We've been reaching out to organizations and businesses, trying to get everyone involved to help support our effort to get Coloradans outside, to enjoy our public lands on May 20th.

Working with Senator Donovan has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. Working on the front lines of politics, I realize that the amount of work I put in, directly impacts how effectively and efficiently Senator Donovan is able to do her job. Senator Donovan fights for important issues every day, and I am honored to have been able to help her better serve Senate District 5 and the great State of Colorado."