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Living the Dream

Hey there! I’m Hailey Phillips. I was born and raised in South-East Idaho. I am a rising junior at BYU-Idaho where I major in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Range Ecology, which is a recent change for me. Just about 5 months ago my major was Biology Education. I would say that my major choices trace back to when I was a young girl. I loved being outside and exploring; camping, hiking and swimming were a part of every summer growing up. Feeling so comfortable in the outdoors, I aspired to be a field biologist. Like Jane and her father in the movie Tarzan, Diego in the TV show Go Diego Go, or the Kratt brothers from the TV show Zaboomoafoo, I wanted to be in an environment where I could learn new things, observe the beauties of nature, and be a part of active solutions to environmental issues we may face. I got a real life taste of this dream when my dad would take my younger sister and I out of school for a day to go on a field trip with him and his whole class of high school students into the mountains!

For years, my dad has been part of Madison High School’s Environmental Solutions (E.S.) program. The program takes a group of select students and trades out their regular class schedule for a whole trimester of field trips to the mountains every other day! I know, sounds too good to be true, but these students would spend their fall studying water, soil, forest, wildlife, and current issues affecting these areas. The students became proficient in the use of computers, graphing, videotaping, photography, as well as learning to sample the environment using technology used by scientists in their various disciplines. They also explored careers in science, math, and english as well as worked with professionals from various government agencies and private enterprises. Being able to witness this kind of learning, even at a young age and for only a few days of my lifetime, inspired me. As I grew up and started attending Rigby High, I thoroughly enjoyed my biology class, so much so that I took it twice! I even considered switching schools so that I could enroll in my dad’s E.S. class. Eventually, I was on my way to college. With my love for biology, I decided to go into Biology Education.

Fast forward 3 years, to about 6 months ago, I was telling my father about how much I was enjoying my biology classes, but I felt that I was being kept indoors studying too much without experiencing much of anything hands-on. I explained how someday, when I was a teacher, that I would want my students to be outside gaining the experiences they need to learn to love that field of science and to learn the necessary skills for it while all the while experiencing the powerful feeling of being in the great outdoors. I explained that I needed some of that for myself, and I needed it soon if I was going to feel confident about my career choices.

He said, “Well, have you heard of the Henry’s Fork Foundation? I took my E.S. students up there last fall, and that sounds like exactly what you are describing. They just sent me an application for their summer internship asking if I knew anyone who would be interested.” I jumped from my seat and said, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME SOONER!?” Before I knew it, I had emailed HFF my application. I started school again and switched my major to Fisheries, Wildlife, and Range Ecology. I spent all of last semester meeting with my fisheries and wildlife advisors one on one to talk about my goals, prepare my resume, and practice interviewing. And now I am here at HFF. Here, I am eager to learn what it means to gain valuable knowledge through professional research and to transform that science into real life applications and projects to help maintain the beautiful quality of our watershed. I am grateful to have already participated in a river clean up as a part of this effort. I am excited to see what else I can do this summer with HFF and to finally get a start on my childhood dream!


  1. Myself at Jenny Lake this last spring (the lake still frozen)

  2. My younger sister an I on one of my dad's E.S. field trips

  3. My same sister and I at an earlier age playing in a stream

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